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No Spoiler Book Review: Born a Crime: A Stories from a South African Childhood

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Today’s Review: Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Erma Bombeck said there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. Like Freddy Nock on a tightrope, Trevor Noah walks that line superbly. This book is hilarious, touching, inspiring, honest and witty: a masterpiece.

Kwapi Vengesayi

Growing up in South Africa’s neighboring Zimbabwe, some of my primary (elementary) school friends, teammates and acquaintances—black, white and coloured⁠—were from families that had fled South Africa in search of more peaceful pastures, all them representing different experiences on the apartheid spectrum. And although I was too young to comprehend some of the nuances and complexities related to the history of apartheid, piecing together their stories and what we learned in classrooms and in the news made me well aware of what apartheid was in its broadest strokes: institutionalized discrimination designed to oppress and disenfranchise non-whites and maintain white minority rule.

In reading Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, the different textures and dimensions of one person’s day-to-day upbringing in apartheid South Africa are painted in such vivid colors. His stand up career had already established him as a phenomenal storyteller, and that gift carries over rather effortlessly into this literary work. If you love his comedy and his work on The Daily Show, you’ll love this book. And if you weren’t familiar with his stand up career before The Daily Show, this book might inspire you to go back and discover what you’ve been missing.

Erma Bombeck said there is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. Like Freddy Nock on a tightrope, Trevor Noah walks that line superbly. This book is hilarious, touching, inspiring, honest and witty: a masterpiece.

Book Description

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Sincerely,
Kwapi

Kwapi Vengesayi is an Amazon bestselling author whose books explore captivating musings and thought-provoking conversations about love, relationships, life and our human experience. You can find his book on Amazon. You can also follow him on Twitter @kwapiv, Instagram @goodblackreads or subscribe to his blog at kwapiv.com

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