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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

777 of 868 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

All about how great he is.

I so wanted to quit this book but I kept hoping for.....something to make it worthwhile. Never happened. Don’t waste your time.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fine but...

Noah is engaging. And his self-depreciating assessment of childhood is familiar to all who have experienced it, regardless of race or country. His observations on race in South Africa and the world over are insightful, but during one anecdote he essentially blames his two pet cats' natural temperament for their own sadistic murder, beheading and skinning at the hands of a superstitious neighbor. In that sense, it seems he may have learned a lot about people's nature, but not much about animals in general.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disjointed

I enjoyed Trevor’s performance but the story jumped around too much and was hard to follow. With random antidotes at the end of various chapters. Would have been more enjoyable if the story was chronological.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Love Trevor Noah....story a bit redundant

TN is a good story teller, I learned much about SAfrica and the era of apartheid
It got a little redundant as the story went on

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I didn’t finished this book. Disappointed. Trevor uses crude phrases I really don’t understand why people do this. We can explain what we’re thinking and what we have experienced without falling into this pattern. Actually, he does a good job of narrating the book.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Foul

If you like foul language and uncivilized speech you might like this book. I did not.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary
  • Folsom, CA, United States
  • 08-06-17

Sounds similar to my poor white youth in 1950's US

Poor and White or black in 1950's was somewhat similar, except growing up in California we did not see the racism as in other states. Plus, didn't know we were poor since everyone around us was the same... until attending high school. So, that aspect of the book was not very hitting to my soul in this book. Wish he could have driven home better his experience of how bad the racism was, but I felt that Noah was able to skip along the boarder of it because of his color and upbringing. His criminal activity in youth shows how the effects of who you hang with will influence your life possibly more than a strong parent. Teach a man to fish and he will be able to feed himself for life. .. Noah repeated this by following up: except they didn't give him/the poor a fishing pole. Noah repeated this often, yet he changed his life like I believe the saying really teaches: Make choices to take control of your life and do not depend on others to Give you a fishing pole.
Interesting young life story, but not yet lived a life that has the gravitas to have a full depth of a autobiography.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

bad language

What disappointed you about Born a Crime?

It started off very interesting but increasing bad language stopped me from listening to any more. I disliked the use of the word fuck and never want to hear it again and so it would stop me from listening to more books from this author but everything else was absolutely excellent so I wish he would write some clean text

Any additional comments?

I learned much about African apartheid

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ty
  • Great State of Mind
  • 06-12-17

meh

Great life story but didn't get the back story on how he became successful, working his way up, habits that he did to reach the top

5 of 5 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.