Born a Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood
Narrated by: Trevor Noah
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (2,174 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The compelling, inspiring (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his focus inward, giving listeners a deeply personal, heartfelt and humorous look at the world that shaped him.

Noah was born a crime, son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the first years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, take him away.

A collection of 18 personal stories, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy growing into a restless young man as he struggles to find his place in a world where he was never supposed to exist. Born a Crime is equally the story of that young man's fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother - a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life.

Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a personal portrait of an unlikely childhood in a dangerous time, as moving and unforgettable as the very best memoirs and as funny as Noah's own hilarious stand-up.

Born a Crime is a must-listen.

©2016 Trevor Noah (P)2016 Audible Ltd.

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Possibly the best Audiobook I’ve listened to

Trevor another is an enigma. Listening to this book as a white South African raised during apartheid and who witnessed its collapse, this book has had a profound effect in me. Trevor’s description and explanation of the realities of the 80s and 90s in SA are astonishing. The perspective he provides is unique.
And hearing him actually reading it - wow! That’s why made it so deeply moving I think.

A book every South African should read! If they are brave enough!
Thank you Trevor!

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Moving, hilarious, surprisingly informative

Would you consider the audio edition of Born a Crime to be better than the print version?

Definitely. This is a book that really makes sense as an audiobook because it's narrated by the author who does a brilliant job, but particularly because of the languages and accents. Having Trevor imitate the different languages as he gave history and explanations of South African culture and Apartheid added a new dimension and an immediate understanding of the "character' as soon as you heard the voice/accent he used. He also speaks the non-English languages, saving the reader from attempting to read them themselves. He's also hilarious.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Born a Crime?

One of the first scenes that Trevor describes is the one that still stays with me the clearest and the one I found most impactful. He, his mother, and baby Andrew jumping out of the van (technically, Trevor was thrown from the van), and running away from the threatening driver. The young Trevor's take on the incident is incredibly sweet and naive, yet really quite dark and upsetting. The whole thing is moving, shocking, and still funny in the way Trevor tells it.

What does Trevor Noah bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

As above - it's the accents and languages. Also, Trevor's impersonation of his younger self is very endearing.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Just because hate is taught, it doesn't have to be learned.

Any additional comments?

I have been a fan of Trevor's comedy so when he released this book I knew I wanted to read it. It was intelligently but humorously written, but what surprised me was how much I learned about South African culture during/after Apartheid. The book showed me the gaping holes in my knowledge of what I thought was simply another case of white racism to blacks. Apartheid went so much deeper than that. It was designed to create hate and fear and disunity, not only between whites and blacks but between coloureds and other races. It was incredible to read about what life was like, and how the colour of your skin or the language you spoke really did affect every part of life there.

Trevor's own personal story itself was fascinating and often tragic, but on the whole the reader isn't left pitying him. He speaks matter-of-factly and honestly about the tragedies, but the core of his story is set in a firm foundation of love from his mother. You admire Trevor and his mother, you don't pity them.

21 people found this helpful

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I couldn’t stop listening

The most captivating book I’ve listened to on Audible. At certain points I had to force myself to stop listening because I didn’t want it to end. The non chronological order of the timeline was a bit of learning curve but was not a big deal because the stories were captivating. Truly a great story teller.

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Brilliant Story Told By Comedy Genius

I read the book then heard he is the narrator of his own book and i listened to it all over again.
Trevor Noah is the type of person that makes every bit of a story funny even when it shouldn't be.

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Best book ever!

Having studied Apartheid in history class, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the construct; however, this book brought my understanding to a new level!

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Just Brilliant!

This was honestly one of the best "reads" I've had in a long, long time - Trevor Noah is just brilliant. Sad and funny, fantastically relatable.

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Exceptional.

Everything about this book is great. Trevor Noah, you rock! and so does your mom.

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Mind-blowing

I absolutely loved it! I love the honesty and realness of it. I will be listening again and buying the book (God Willing). It inspired me. I love his mum and the relationship they have! Very very nice.

9 people found this helpful

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HUMANO Y EMOTIVO

Debería ser lectura obligada para los adolescentes, es una historia de supervivencia, valor y un hermoso testimonio de amor de un hijo a su madre. Una historia que enseña que los duros momentos de la vida siempre te dan opciones para seguir el camino del bien.

Es una historia que resalta todo lo bueno que es capaz de lograr el amor de una madre que tiene todo en su contra para salir adelante por un hijo, pero lo que la hace más especial es que todo aquello es narrado desde la perspectiva del amor incondicional y el agradecimiento de ese hijo por el que se sacrificó. Es una bella e inspiradora historia amor y de fe.

Ojalá algún día logre conocer a Trevor y a su madre y darles un gran abrazo!

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Captures struggles of growing up in South Africa

Amazing Narration, the stories capture you, and rings true of post apartheid South Africa

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  • OldskoolHrdcore
  • 08-25-17

Excellently read

Having listened to 30 or so autobiographys on audible I've found only a few truly captivating, often with other titles I've found myself zoning out as the story is just pretty mundane, BUT listening to Trevor was a joy, his accents are excellent and you really feel like he takes you on the journey and the voices he does make it feel like you're in the room as it happens. Along with excellent narration is the story itself, which was fascinating, being a white westerner it really opened my eyes to some concepts of racism I hadn't pondered before and I feel less ignorant having listened...

16 people found this helpful

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  • DrSeun
  • 02-23-17

Definitely the best audiobook in my collection!!!

This book was quite interesting, engaging and informative. I reckon it is better to listen to it rather than reading it, as Trevor's voice takes you through the range of human emotions, I teared up at times, laughed out loud, got angry, despaired and was hopeful again... it was definitely worth the amount paid.

8 people found this helpful

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  • mollyeyre
  • 06-10-17

Amazing life story

I rarely go for autobiographies as the tedium of 'me, me, me' irritates me. However, this was an amazing story, I felt it was mainly a tribute to Trevor Noah's mother who was such a brilliant woman fighting against adversity and making her son into a loving and very worthy man. I feel tearful after reading this and I am very impressed by the character of this man - and even more by the character of his fiery mother.

I hesitated before buying, as I say I don't usually go for auto biographies - but this was different - I keep using 'amazing' in this review - but it really IS amazing! A real delight to understand a little about the South Africa of past times, and the troubled transition into the SA of today. (Though I fear it is still troubled).

6 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 12-04-16

Brilliant, unique and full of memories.

This book brings back a lot of memories for me growing up in South Africa. I was one of Trevor's friends in high school, in fact I'm the person who he mentions helped start his pirated cd business but to hear about his life from the "other side", growing up as a poor black South African under such trying conditions really brings your own life in to perspective. The Trevor I knew and the front he put on was miles away from how his life really was. Although parts of it do seem to have a slight bit of creative license - at least the bits I am aware of - it is a still fantastic story about a incredibly talented and determined individual who has risen to where he is today because of his mother and her determination to make him a man. Just listen to it, you will not be disappointed.

40 people found this helpful

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  • Rohma
  • 02-27-17

Masterpiece

The best thing, hands down, is Trevor Noah speaking in different languages and doing imitations!

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr-reader
  • 07-16-17

Amazing

I finished it within 2 days, I really recommend the book, its funny and sad same time.

4 people found this helpful

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  • E
  • 01-07-17

Incredible story of this man's life

I always love to hear stories read by the author. This is no exception. I've always loved Trevor's comedy and I had no idea of the life he has lived. I particularly love the stories about his mother, she sounds like a wonderful, funny and strong woman, the kind of mother to aspire to be like. It was very interesting to also learn more about South Africa and apartheid, something I feel I have greater understanding of now and how it has affected families and it's lasting effects.

7 people found this helpful

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  • AnnabelLT
  • 08-22-18

Utterly incredible - read it!!

Last night I finished listening to the audiobook version of Trevor Noah’s autobiography, Born a Crime. I cannot urge you enough to listen to it.

This book is insanely funny and full of absurd moments that make you go ‘wait, I need to read that again… seriously??!’.

Set in apartheid South Africa and just beyond, this is a survival story in the realest sense. Noah’s not climbing Everest or trekking to the poles, but he and his friends and family face the day-to-day terror of a police state, abuse, discrimination, hunger, imprisonment, crime, shootings.

Noah doesn’t just talk about being poor, he makes you taste and smell and see it. From the stench of backed-up sewage to the disgusting squelch of a caterpillar bursting in your mouth when that’s all you can afford to eat.

His use of language – particularly in the audiobook version where each character is brought to life with their own accent and dialect – paints the story in such vivid colour.

He is honest not just about his actions, but his innermost thoughts. These musings put you in his shoes, forcing you to examine your own mind. How much would you pay to save your own mother’s life?, he makes you wonder. Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? Millions?

What resonated with me most from this book was the reminder of the importance of someone showing you what is possible from life. Had Noah only seen the confines of the walled ghettos his closest family were imprisoned in, his life today would be unimaginably different. But his mother empowers him to believe he can be something else, live somewhere different, feel, see, taste and experience an ‘other’.

You can’t be what you can’t see; that is why it is so important that we show people their potential.

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  • Ann D
  • 06-03-17

Powerful biography

This is not really what I expected from the Comedian Trever Noah. It's a sobering tale of being born and raised a mixed race boy in Apartheid, and newly post Apartheid, South Africa. It's very well written and he narrates it himself perfectly. The only thing I disliked, but not enough to diminish the 5* review score, is his references to "all Americans will understand this (and) although South African culture is very different, Americans will get this". This jarred for me. Did he write it with just Americans in mind? Does he think only Americans will read it? Hmm!

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  • Joseph McMahon
  • 01-15-17

As funny as it is informative

If you're a fan of Trevor Noah then you'll really enjoy this. Has some serious accounts that are hard hitting as equally as it is funny. Well worth the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nyasha
  • 12-18-16

Best audiobook I've listened... Ever!

This was hands down the best purchase i have made from Audible. You will not be disappointed. Trevor's story is hilarious, heartbreaking and hopeful. His performance was outstanding, I loved every minute

11 people found this helpful

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  • Milena
  • 02-24-18

Best book in years!

Fascinating story of Trevor Noah’s upbringing. Beautifully written and narrated, I could not put this down. Love love loved it and can’t wait for the next one!!!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-29-18

Thrilling, real, heartfelt

Have been a fan of Trevor Noah for a long time, but unbelievably I was surprised by how captivating his life story and journey was to listen to, the fact that he narrates it himself just makes it that much better too. Had me listening 24/7! Would definitely recommend ⭐️

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-23-18

Mind opening

Every sgingle chapter opened my mind to some new perspective. he had the ultimate experience of been born and raised as a outsider of all groups, that and his wonderfully strong mum and unique history South Africa was going through, all of these gave his so far only 30 odd years long life incredible depth and wisdom that most of us will never have in a full 80+ years life time. Absolutely loved it and strongly recommended to everyone.

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  • carolyn fitzgerald
  • 03-15-18

Equally tragic and funny

I didn’t know a lot about Sth African society. A really interesting insight into Apartheid and post Apartheid Sth Africa. Honest and funny. Highly recommended

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  • Ben Preston
  • 03-04-18

Gripping

Trevor Noah doesn't beat you over the head with hus stories. He tells great stories and then lets you draw your own conclusions.

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  • Alexander Sit
  • 03-01-18

choppy timeline but great listen

I think Trevor Noah is a great comedian and this book allows the listener to get a better understanding that growing is the same no matter where you're from.

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  • zoostra
  • 01-31-17

Really enjoyed it

Awesome!
Not like his comedy routines.
But very funny stories from his childhood in shanty town squalor.
His mother was amazing.
He was half-black half white born in apartheid.
Doesn't cover his career in comedy etc
Tragedy pain humour hustling naughtiness etc
Leave with Hope and gratitude in face of challenging life
Great narration
Highly recommend

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-20

Absolutely Brilliant

Trevor Noah this critical and introspective masterpiece with humour and humility. Patricia is an inspiration whose story is a privilege to hear.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-31-20

Could not put it down!! Must read

Wow! Honestly I could not put this book down. The way the story is told & the fact that it is narrated by the author makes it all the better. Very engaging story. Do it! Read this!