- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 50 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: November 15, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01IW9TM5O
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Audiobook – Unabridged
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Trevor's mother taught him to use humor to help cope with life, and he learned that lesson well. Despite having good reasons for feeling self-pity and resentment, Trevor had a knack for finding the humor in even the most difficult circumstances. Not forced, jokey humor, but just a low-key appreciation for the weirdness of life. As I turned the last page, I smiled at the ending, which was perfect, but I also felt sad that the story ended. I want to know what happened next. I hope he will write a sequel.
I started reading my ebook galley as soon as I was approved.
I have to love a guy who finds comedy in tragedy and who gleefully spins yarns about experiences that would keep most of us in therapy for a lifetime. There is a genius in comedy that allows us to encounter devastating truths through the protective lens of laughter.
The heroine of the book is Noah's mother, a feisty lady with a solid rock faith, a gal who snubs her nose at things that don't make sense. She makes mistakes, but always out of love. She takes huge risks but somehow Jesus is always there to catch her mid-fall.
Noah was "naughty as s***" and a challenge to raise, but never hateful or mean. He learned to navigate Apartheid society's complex system that divided people in to three groups: black, white, and colored. How one was categorized was senseless. Japanese were put into the 'white' slot but Chinese into the 'colored'.
"The genius of Apartheid was convincing people who were the overwhelming majority to turn on each other. Apart hate, is what is was."
Noah was 'colored' with a 'black' Xhosa African mother and a 'white' Swiss father, his very existence implicating his parent's crime. Had the police discovered them, his parents would be sent to jail and Noah sent to an orphanage. He spent much of his life hidden away, indoors. His parents could not be seen together with him, and his mother had to even pretend he was not her child.
Noah was "colored by complexion but not by culture." He spoke multiple languages, Xhosa and Zulu and Afrikaans, and English, could fit into most groups, but felt affiliated to black culture.
The book is a series of episodic tales, thoughtfully constructed, saving the climax of his family history until the end of the book, after we have come to know and understand them.
"I saw the futility of violence, the cycle that just repeats itself, the damage that's inflicted on people that they in turn inflict on others. I saw, more than anything, that relationships are not sustained by violence, but by love."
The book is funny but is more than a diversive read, it enlarges our understanding of the world. Noah offers an understanding of South African history, colonialism, and Apartheid that is engaging and relevant. He shares the important things he learned and offers them to us. We should listen. We should learn.
But this review shouldn't be about his celebrity on the Daily Show. It stands alone as a remarkable memoir and a completely engaging story that will appeal to anyone who's felt like an outsider. He is a wonderful story teller, finding the right balance between relaying his experiences, weaving in the social atmosphere around it and doing it in such a way that even as an American reader, I was able to visualize the communities he was describing in rich detail. Additionally, he was able to explain aspects of a post apartheid world that not only clarify the plight of South Africans today but also shed light on some of the challenges we are facing here in the US. He has a unique perspective and a wonderful voice that I hope to hear more of in the future.