- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 8 hours and 44 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: November 15, 2016
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English, English
- ASIN: B01IW9TM5O
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Audible 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.
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.