Born a Crime

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.
 
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 eighteen personal essays 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.

PRAISE FOR

National Bestseller
A New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times Top Book of 2016
An Esquire Best Book
A CBC Best Book
An NPR Best Book
A Booklist Editors' Choice, 2016


"[A] compelling new memoir. . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [the] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah's family, at life in South Africa under apartheid and the country's lurching entry into a postapartheid era in the 1990s." —The New York Times 

"[A] stirring memoir. . . . Noah proves to be a gifted storyteller, able to deftly lace his poignant tales with amusing irony." —Entertainment Weekly 

"Born a Crime is an engaging, fast-paced and vivid read. . . . The book is essential reading not only because it is a personal story of survival, leavened with insight and wit, but because it does more to expose apartheid—its legacy, its pettiness, its small-minded stupidity and its damage—than any other recent history book or academic text." —The Guardian (UK)

"[A] substantial collection of staggering personal essays. . . . Incisive, funny and vivid, these true tales are anchored to his portrait of his courageous, rebellious and religious mother who defied racially restrictive laws to secure an education and a career for herself—and to have a child with a white Swiss/German even though sex between whites and blacks was illegal. . . . [Trevor Noah's] electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories . . . and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender and class." —Booklist, starred review
 
"A gritty memoir . . . studded with insight and provocative social criticism . . . with flashes of brilliant storytelling and acute observations." —Kirkus Reviews

"[Noah's] story of surviving—and thriving—is mind-blowing." —Cosmopolitan

"Noah's memoir is extraordinary in its observations of South Africa in the years when apartheid crumbled. It's equally unusual in the troubling personal story it tells. Throw in Noah's sharp, droll prose style, and you have a book that feels like essential reading on every level." —The Seattle Times 

"What makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism. . . . What also helped was having a mother like Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. . . . Consider Born a Crime another such gift to her—and an enormous gift to the rest of us." —USA Today

"You'd be hard-pressed to find a comic's origin story better than the one Trevor Noah serves up in Born a Crime." —O: The Oprah Magazine

"Witty and revealing . . . Noah's story is the story of modern South Africa; though he enjoyed some privileges of the region's slow Westernization, his formative years were shaped by poverty, injustice and violence. Noah is quick with a disarming joke, and he skillfully integrates the parallel narratives via interstitial asides between chapters. . . . Perhaps the most harrowing tales are those of his abusive stepfather, which form the book's final act (and which Noah cleverly foreshadows throughout earlier chapters), but equally prominent are the laugh-out-loud yarns about going to the prom and the differences between 'White Church' and 'Black Church.'" —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[Noah] thrives with the help of his astonishingly fearless mother. . . . Their fierce bond makes this story soar." —People

"Extraordinarily heartfelt, compulsively enriching . . . a hell of a memoir. . . . With his debut book, Mr. Noah produces a striking, evocative, constantly surprising, tremendously heartbreaking, persistently funny and absorbing true-life account, one that never fails to capture his clear-eyed conviction, echoing pathos, sharp perception and sense of humor. . . . Trevor Noah is a rich storyteller." —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette