Born a Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood
Narrated by: Trevor Noah
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (168,115 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers

Winner: Audible's Best of 2016 - Celebrity Memoirs 

In this award-winning Audible Studios production, Trevor Noah tells his wild coming-of-age tale during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa. It’s a story that begins with his mother throwing him from a moving van to save him from a potentially fatal dispute with gangsters, then follows the budding comedian’s path to self-discovery through episodes both poignant and comical. Noah’s virtuoso embodiment of all the characters from his childhood, and his ability to perform accents and dialects effortlessly in English, Xhosa, and Zulu, garnered the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator in 2018. Nevertheless, Noah’s devoted and uncompromising mother—as voiced by her son—steals the show. 

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.

Go Behind the Scenes of Born a Crime

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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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Our favorite moments from Born a Crime

"No, Mom! This was not thanks to God!"
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"Once Mandela was elected, we could finally live freely."
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"If my mother had one goal, it was to free my mind."
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  • Born a Crime
  • "No, Mom! This was not thanks to God!"
  • Born a Crime
  • "Once Mandela was elected, we could finally live freely."
  • Born a Crime
  • "If my mother had one goal, it was to free my mind."

About the Author and Performer

Trevor Noah found fame as a comedian and TV personality in his native South Africa before becoming a household name in America as the host of The Daily Show. But before he found his gift for satire, he came of age as a storyteller during the waning days of apartheid and the tumultuous freedom that followed. In writing and performing Born a Crime—his first book—Trevor Noah can add “best-selling memoirist” and “audiobook narrator” to his list of hilarious-yet-heartfelt triumphs.

What listeners say about Born a Crime

Average Customer Ratings
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Nonchalant comments about animal abuse

I’m from South Africa and Trevor’s account of South Africa was spot on but frankly I stopped listening after his unemotional account of animal abuse towards his own cats. Made me feel sick to my stomach... Trevor just lost a fan for life.

123 people found this helpful

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An interesting take on life yet a bit disturbing

As someone who is blind, I love audible because the books are narrated to me. I made this selection because I enjoy listening to the rider on his comedy show. He is very entertaining and can tell a good story. For the most part, I find his commentary is generally on point. This book gives you a glimpse into his mind and gives you a little background about the life that he has had while growing up in South Africa. I found the issues regarding domestic violence and his family situation to be quite disturbing, but I understand where his viewpoint is coming from because it was a very terrible situation. There were many things in the book that were quite funny and I enjoyed much of his narrative. I had a little bit of a problem with the story regarding the time where he was a DJ and had a lead dancer Who was given the name of Hitler. His explanation of the situation and the reason why this person was named after one of the most notorious people in history is uncomfortable. Other than these two things, I would recommend this book to others with the caveat that it might be a little much for some.

112 people found this helpful

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Too much profanity

Too much profanity when it wasn't necessary for the story. Overall very interesting life story.

94 people found this helpful

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Reviews were a bit misleading

Based on the reviews I read, I expected more. It wasn't a tragic life story, or super funny story.
It's an ok story.
Guess the hype, from the reviews, led me to hope for something more.

123 people found this helpful

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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.

915 people found this helpful

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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.

92 people found this helpful

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Read or not to read

If you have nothing else to do or to read then this book is for you. It was okay but nothing new here to learn.

76 people found this helpful

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Started out very interesting, but declined quickly

Liked the first couple of chapters, but could not finish the book. Dragged on with childhood stories that weren't very captivating.

107 people found this helpful

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skip it

I love Trevor Noah, but this book is boring uneventful and too simple . I tried and tried but I couldn't even finish it

123 people found this helpful

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all about a naughty boy

I was interested in the cultural aspect of Noah's early life but when he went on and on about how naughty he was I lost interest. Naughty boys are naughty boys all over the world. I may go back and try to listen again as I would like to know how he became the person he is today.

105 people found this 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.