top of page
Born a Crime

society & culture

personal development

Born a Crime

Trevor Noah

What is the book about?

The book Born a Crime (2016) is about the incredible life of Trevor Noah, who was born to a black mother and a white father during apartheid in South Africa. It tells the story of his childhood, his struggles with identity and poverty, and his rise to becoming a successful comedian and host of The Daily Show.

Who should read the book?

This book is a perfect read for individuals that are interested in autobiographical stories and enjoy learning about different cultures. It is also suitable for those that appreciate a humorous and honest approach to discussing complex topics such as racism, identity, and family dynamics.

About the Author:

Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, and television host. He is best known for hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central, succeeding Jon Stewart. Noah has also released several comedy specials and has won multiple awards for his work, including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program. Born during apartheid, Noah's experiences growing up in South Africa have heavily influenced his comedy and commentary on race and politics.

Book Summary

Three Key Ideas - find more in our App!

Get ready to embark on a fascinating journey through the life of one of the most brilliant comedians of our time! Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is a poignant and inspiring memoir that takes us on a roller-coaster ride of emotions and experiences. From growing up in apartheid South Africa to becoming the host of The Daily Show, Trevor Noah's story is one of resilience, courage, and humor in the face of adversity.

In this book, you'll learn about Trevor's childhood in a racially-divided country where being of mixed-race was considered a crime. You'll discover how he navigated his way through a world that was hostile to him, and how he used his wit and humor to survive. You'll also get a glimpse into his family life, his relationships with his mother and grandmother, and how they shaped the person he is today.

With Born a Crime, you'll get an inside look at the challenges of growing up poor, black, and mixed-race in South Africa, and how these experiences shaped Trevor Noah's unique perspective on the world. You'll also learn about the power of language, the importance of education, and the role of humor in overcoming adversity.

So, buckle up and get ready for a riveting read that will leave you inspired, informed and entertained. Born a Crime is a book that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page.

Growing up mixed race under apartheid

The author delves into the complexities of growing up as a mixed-race child in South Africa during apartheid. Trevor Noah's unique experience as the son of a black South African mother and a white Swiss father placed him in a precarious position within the country's racial hierarchy. He was literally "born a crime" due to the country's strict racial laws forbidding interracial relationships.

Through compelling anecdotes, Noah recounts the challenges he faced while navigating this hostile environment. He was often considered an outsider, unable to fit neatly into any racial category. This experience of living between worlds forced him to develop a keen understanding of the absurdities and injustices of apartheid.

He shares stories of having to hide from the police because they could have taken him away from his mother, as well as the time when his mother had to pretend to be his maid just to avoid getting into trouble with the law. These experiences highlight the extreme measures his family had to take in order to stay together.

Despite the adversity, Noah's mother instilled in him the belief that he was not limited by his racial identity. She taught him that he could be a bridge between different communities and foster understanding among them.

By weaving together humor and heartbreak, the author paints a vivid picture of the struggles faced by mixed-race individuals during apartheid. Through his personal journey, readers gain a deeper understanding of the impact of systemic racism on individual lives and the importance of challenging racial stereotypes in order to create a more inclusive society.

Finding identity through humor

In this engaging key idea, the author highlights the crucial role humor played in forming his unique identity. As a mixed-race child growing up during apartheid, Trevor Noah faced countless challenges and often felt torn between two worlds. Nonetheless, he found an innovative way to manage these complexities: by utilizing laughter and wit.

Noah's skill in employing humor as a coping mechanism enabled him to connect with individuals from diverse backgrounds and defuse tense situations. He recounts various episodes where his quick wit and capacity to make others laugh helped bridge cultural gaps and foster a sense of belonging. For instance, he shares how humor allowed him to fit in at school, where his mixed-race heritage made him an outsider among both black and white communities.

Furthermore, Noah reveals how comedy became a vital survival tool, helping him steer through the perils of living in a society riddled with racial divisions and violence. His talent for transforming even the most distressing experiences into humorous anecdotes provided him with a means to process trauma and find solace amidst turmoil.

Humor not only assisted the author in crafting a distinctive identity but also functioned as a platform for challenging racial stereotypes and defying societal norms. By eliciting laughter, Noah opened up spaces for conversations about race, prejudice, and identity, inspiring others to reevaluate their assumptions and cultivate empathy.

Through captivating anecdotes, the significance of humor in shaping Trevor Noah's identity becomes apparent. His ability to derive laughter amid adversity has ultimately empowered him to overcome the constraints imposed by apartheid, emerging as a resilient, adaptable individual unafraid to embrace life's peculiarities.

bottom of page