Born a Crime ~ by Trevor Noah

I’d seen this on the recommendations lists and reviews from various places,   then my sister recommended it and after a few months I caved.   Yup – it’s pretty good.  And I needed something a bit funny or light weight.   This fit the bill because although serious topics come up and it has some very sobering ideas,  Noah is a comedian by trade and his escapades, with his narration,  shine through.

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood 
by Trevor Noah 
2016 / 304 pages
read by Trevor Noah  8h 50m
rating 8.5
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Trevor Noah is a  33-year old TV-/radio host/comedian who was born and raised in South Africa.  He’s of mixed heritage having a black mother and a white father.  When he was born it was illegal for blacks and whites to have sexual relations so at that time he was “born a crime.”   There were many class distinctions in South Africa during apartheid –  white, black, mixed –  Chinese were black but Japanese were white.   Most “mixed” people were the products of long prior relationships back to the original settlers.  Noah had light skin but kinky hair and black mother (as opposed to mixed parents).   He was very mixed from birth and it was confusing to people but they had to deal with it as did he. Apartheid officially started in about 1948 and finally ended in 1991.  Noah was born in 1984.

He spent a lot of his childhood alone with no playmates or acceptance largely because of his being “mixed” race – with no heritage of that.

There is a fair amount of politics in the book,  but it’s basically a memoir of a mixed-race child who lives in Johannesburg with his black mother and knows his father.  We follow his life from birth through various schools and family situations until he’s relatively full grown and moves out of the house –  in his early 30s,  probably.    There is only a general chronology woven through the stories.

But it’s funny and sad and poignant look at post -apartheid South Africa

A lot of it is about his mother who was/is a fiercely religious person, but totally unique in her belief in freedom and love and perseverance. .    Also,  Noah has some really keen insights into racism and crime and language and skin color.   The book goes beyond the life of the subject.

 

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