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Editorial Reviews

Editors Select, November 2016 - Just as fans of The Daily Show weren't quite sure what to expect when he was announced as the show's new host, I started Born a Crime not really knowing what I'd find in Noah's book. Comedy? Political and social commentary? Sure, but not in the way I expected. Instead, I was given so much more. Noah's story is intertwined with the final years and aftermath of apartheid-era South Africa. It's a story that begins with Noah's mother throwing him from a moving car to avoid a potentially fatal dispute with gangsters and follows the comedian's path to self-discovery amid episodes both bittersweet and comical. It's eloquent and touching and funny and made all the better with his reading, especially as he recounts anecdotes involving his mother - the true show stealer - and delivers clever turns of phrase as only a top-notch comic and storyteller can. —Doug, Audible Editor

Publisher's Summary

Highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers

Winner: Audible's Best of 2016 - Celebrity Memoirs

Trevor Noah, one of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars and host of The Daily Show, tells his wild coming-of-age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. In this Audible Studios production, Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives.

"Nelson Mandela once said, 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.' He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else's language, even if it's just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, 'I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.'" (Trevor Noah)

Attuned to the power of language at a young age - as a means of acceptance and influence in a country divided, then subdivided, into groups at odds with one another - Noah's raw, personal journey becomes something extraordinary in audio: a true testament to the power of storytelling. With brutal honesty and piercing wit, he forgoes an ordinary reading and, instead, delivers something more intimate, sharing his story with the openness and candor of a close friend. His chameleon-like ability to mimic accents and dialects, to shift effortlessly between languages including English, Xhosa, and Zulu, and to embody characters throughout his childhood - his mother, his gran, his schoolmates, first crushes and infatuations - brings each memory to life in vivid detail. Hearing him directly, you're reminded of the gift inherent in telling one's story and having it heard; of connecting with another, and seeing them as a human being.

The stories Noah tells are by turns hilarious, bizarre, tender, dark, and poignant - subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty, making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance in a color-obsessed world, thrown into jail as the hapless fall guy for a crime he didn't commit, thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters, and more.

An Audible for Dogs Pick: Make your dog's day. Cesar Millan shares how audiobooks can make dogs happier and calmer. Learn more.
©2016 Spiegel & Grau (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Comedian Trevor Noah's stories of growing up in South Africa are vivid, sometimes harrowing, and often laugh-out-loud funny. The bonus of audio is that listeners get to HEAR Noah tell these stories in his South African-accented English, as well as hear him speak snippets of various other South African languages. Noah (who succeeded Jon Stewart as the host of 'The Daily Show') is a natural storyteller - skilled, engaging, and relatable.... Noah's narration offers insights and intimacy." ( AudioFile)
"The author’s gift for vocal impersonation elevates the audio version into something even more splendid than an already terrific memoir.” - The Washington Post

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book and perfect narration

I don't review a lot of books anymore, but this one got to me. There are lots of books written by people -- including me -- who had a hard time growing up. Abusive parents, poverty, oppression. War. There is a lot of awful stuff children endure.

Trevor Noah endured all of it. Name something bad that a kid can experience and it probably happened to him. Born under apartheid, his existence was illegal. His birth was, as the title of his book suggests, a crime.

As the child of a white father and a black mother under South Africa during apartheid, if he had been noticed by the authorities, they would have taken him from his family and put him ... somewhere. So merely surviving until the end of apartheid was no mean feat. Add to that extreme poverty, violence and life under the most oppressive, racist regime you can imagine. Actually, you may not be able to imagine it. I knew it was bad, but South Africa refined oppression into an art form.

One of the other noteworthy things about this book was that I learned great deal about things I thought I already knew. I don't know if Noah intended it as a cautionary tale, but it is. Chilling.

I didn't read the book. I listened to the audiobook because Noah reads it himself. He has a beautiful, melodic voice and a lovely cadence. It was a treat for my ears and my brain.

You might think with all of this terrible stuff -- and some of it is really horrific -- that this would be an angry, possibly embittered man. But he isn't.

He's funny when humor is possible. Even when he's serious, there is grace and wit -- plus a sweetness and generosity of spirit that's rather uplifting. I don't think I've ever said that about a book. It's not a word I use lightly. Trevor Noah is a rare person, able to appreciate the good stuff in his life and not obsess over the considerable amount of injustice he has experienced.

I'm not usually a big fan of celebrity memoirs or autobiographies, but this is exceptional. If you have the patience, listen to it as an audiobook. Otherwise, consider reading it. He's a smart guy, a good writer, and an astute observer of humanity, government, politics, and relationships. Insightful, witty, and entertaining, I highly recommend it.

614 of 682 people found this review helpful

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Wow

The narration is exemplary. He is a chameleon and his command of language gives the narrative so much texture.

The breadth and variety of sound is staggering. The are so many characters each with there own voice and language. It is a tour de force of story telling.

The story, in and of itself, is history, humor, and horror and at the end you will be uplifted.

Wow. Just Wow.

262 of 317 people found this review helpful

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  • Paula
  • Overland Park, KS USA
  • 06-07-17

An Amazing Story of Survival in South Africa

This is a very good bio -- Trevor Noah is a true survivor; all credit due to his strong, resilient mother. I love Trevor Noah's comedic takes on current events, politics and life in general. His life story provides essential background for understanding his unique point of view -- the context of his life in South Africa can't be over estimated in importance. This book also lays bare the racist tenants of Apartheid and for that reason, may be a difficult listen for some who would rather deny the facts as they are.

Today, Trevor Noah makes me laugh, but after listening to his story, he has caused me to be more empathetic, more aware and more vigilant in calling out my own racism and white privilege. Very good listen!!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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And now I wait...

Wonderful and engaging story, an eloquent and fluent reading by the author (I've loved hearing Trevor Noah speak since the first time I saw him on television), and very educational at the same time. However, I really want to know the story of how he ended up in America as the host of The Daily Show. He touches on the beginnings of his entertainment career in this book, but the main story is, as the title suggests, focused in his early life - from birth until early adulthood.... so I'm waiting Mr. Noah!!! I'm waiting for more of your seamlessly enchanting story telling!!! 😬

160 of 196 people found this review helpful

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Best book this's year

Yes, I said it. The best book this year. Funny, poignant, historical, happy, and perfect. Yes, it is the story of Trevor, but it is so much more. It is the story of a place and a time that while I thought I understood, I didn't. It's just amazing that this is the story of a YOUNG man. How can this all have happened such a short time ago? Told with such wit and interest this is really the story of a woman who made her own way and taught her child to do the same. So enjoyable. The perfect book.

124 of 157 people found this review helpful

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A Great Listen

First of all this dude is hilarious. His comedic mindset in the midst of racism, poverty & abuse is uncanny. Great story!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Great! Great! Great Book!

At first I was weary because I don't favor books where the author narrates their own work (autobiographies included), but I shouldn't of hesitated. This book is not only engaging, hilarious and relatable but it also has an introspective quality to it. You get a deeper look into apartheid where you see the cause and effect of such a system and the parallels within America.

I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Trevor does an excellent job narrating and he really captures your attention. There are gaps in this book, so I am looking forward to another one in the future. Thanks for sharing your story.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating, tragic, and charming

As a Trevor Noah fan I had high expectations of this book. I expected it to be intelligently funny and charming. I didn't expect it to captivate me in the way it did. His true understanding of human nature shines through as he tells his tragic story.

93 of 121 people found this review helpful

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NO JOKE

Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” is no joke.

Remembering when Trevor Noah took over the “Daily Show”, thoughts of a South African replacing an American, places one in two minds. One mind thinks how could a person not born in America understand the politics and culture of a country satirized by a TV show? Another mind thinks the “Daily Show” will become more culturally relevant with a commentator that satirizes more than just American culture.

The answer to the first mind’s question is the second mind’s conclusion. Personally, it is sad to have witnessed the loss of John Stewart’s insightful American commentary. However, Noah offers a perspective that is equally insightful; admittedly cringe worthy at times, but more universal. “Born a Crime” is testament to Noah’s cultural diversity and universal insight.

Noah is a challenging son. He shows himself to be a hyperactive, non-violent, trouble-maker in his youth. He is born into poverty but raised by a mother who believes in a moral code of unshakable faith. In his youth, Noah defies most of his mother’s inner direction and strict, sometimes physically punishing, discipline. Retrospectively, Noah acknowledges how much his mother loved him, and how her fortitude presumably made him mentally tough, independent, and irreverently objective.

Noah knows what it is to be poor. Undoubtedly, Noah now knows what is like to be rich. More importantly, it seems Noah has adopted his mother’s independence and, by virtue of his life experience (some might say), has acquired a superior perception of reality. “Born a Crime” is no joke.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Absolutely great

My kids (12 and 15), my husband and I listened on both legs of a 6 hour round trip and there was not a single request to turn it off or switch to pop music or hard rock! That's pretty extraordinary for my family of diverse tastes. We were entertained and given an amazing glimpse into a world we know nothing about. Lots to think about. Highly recommended.

32 of 43 people found this review helpful

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  • KM
  • 10-16-17

EXCELLENT!!!!!!!

I'm so glad that Trevor Noah reads this book himself. He does voices for his family members and is SO funny!! A very entertaining look at what has been a pretty heavy and eventful life.