Born a Crime

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah Book Summary

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed

NAMED ONE OF PASTE’S BEST MEMOIRS OF THE DECADE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Michiko Kakutani, New York TimesUSA Today • San Francisco Chronicle • NPR • Esquire • Newsday • Booklist

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to 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 earliest 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, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. 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, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Praise for Born a Crime

“Compelling . . . By turns alarming, sad and funny, [Trevor Noah’s] book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid. . . . Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

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Born a Crime (Trevor Noah) Book Reviews

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- Phenomenal story5 star

This book reached touched me. As a mixed race woman, I was able to identify with the story and place myself in Trevor’s shoes. Regardless of the story’s tone, his detailed description really places the reader in the setting.

- Intriguing5 star

Omg!! I laughed, cried, & was on the edge of my seat at times. This book was amazingly written, and extremely difficult to put down! Thank you Trevor for this display of vulnerability letting us into your life, giving us a glimpse of true struggle and resilience.

- Heartwarming & heartbreaking5 star

Humorous bio with great insight

- No pain, no gain...5 star

The life Mr. Noah leads now would never have been possible without the life he lead in his early years. As a Christian, I thought his early experience might sour him on religion. Who knows: maybe it did. But his life under an abusive older person is very familiar to me and I can only thank God that both of us came through the other side of it with a semblance of normalcy. I thank him for his story wish him and all he loves nothing but the best.

- Trevor Noah's "Born a Crime"5 star

I loved this book. If you also get to listen to the audio book told in Trevor's own voice, this will add a new depth to the story-telling experience. I laughed out loud at many points in this autobiographical account. I even "Google-Earthed" the locations he described as he went along, to get an actual virtual experience of all places referenced. I do agree with one other reviewer that he could have left out the occasional profanity, but the story overall was so awesome, intriguing, honest and unique--with Trevor fluidly maneuvering through local dialects and languages and timely comic relief--you still will greatly enjoy this read.

- Truly Brilliant!5 star

Trevor, I recognized you as both extremely clever and funny but I never realized before reading your story that you are truly a brilliant person as well! The only reservation that I have with your Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and having a black Xhosa mother and a white Swiss/German father in apartheid South Africa, is that you have already told me the most wonderful and amazing story of your life and that you are only 32! Even though this book will reverberate well into the future, it should be read by everyone now because of the values that it sets for us. While this is the factual story of your beginnings, it quickly becomes apparent that your mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is the major force in your life and a most powerful voice for women, who has set the bar high for mothers around the world. The uniqueness of your genetic origins, the place and time of your birth, your keen powers of observation, the diversity that your mother exposed you to and your superior storytelling abilities have all come together to create a fitting parable at a time in history when good ones are so dearly needed. If you will excuse my expression, it is a wonderfully colorful tale for our time. My review specifically avoids your detailed descriptions of the hardened environments that you endured and the weight of your experiences in growing up under such circumstances in order to not distract from the charm of your personal style that always carries the day. As you weave in the realities of appearance, culture, law and stereotypical references, you display the talents of a sophisticated young artist with a global palate and a style that's extremely impressive. Your descriptions of the importance of traditions, multiple languages and the realities of these experiences are set in a world context. I look forward to hearing more about the people of your life in an eloquent prose that is so uniquely you; I am very impressed! Bob Magnant writes Apple Books about the iPhone Internet era and is the author of ‘The Last Transition…’, a fact-based novel about Iran politics, globalization, the Internet and US policy in the Middle East…

- Heartbreakingly funny5 star

Seldom does a book keep me enraptured from page to page, but Trevor’s brilliant stories and endless capers were salve for the soul.

- The world as we know it5 star

Knowing that this happened as I grew up left me speechless. I told my mom about the book, she remember how she used to cry over the news of the civil war in SA as we grew up. The way Noah, brought everything to life in a truthful yet light tone... It is a most read!

- Well done4 star

Well written and engaging. Trevor is a good man who has overcome incredible odds. A bit long at times but worth the read. Bravo.

- A great read! Definitely recommend.5 star

A true and honest story about growing up and the relationship between a mother and Son .

- Born a crime5 star


- Fantastic5 star


- An amazing read from cover to cover.5 star

This book is fantastic. I didn’t think it was possible to love Trevor more, but I was mistaken. The perspective he has on life and family is a breath of fresh air.

- Loved this! Constantly laughing out loud5 star

I read this book while commuting to and from work, and I was constantly laughing out loud while on the subway. I was constantly wondering what the next part of the story would be about and loved everyone more than the last. It's heartfelt and hysterical and a great read.

- Born a Crime5 star

This book is hilarious, intesting and imposibble to set down. Trevor Noah’s overall unique point of veiw and technique of writing is admirable. So, if you are planning on buying this book, dont hesitate, get right to it!

- Born a crime5 star

An amazing story. Very well written. Funny at times and very emotional at others.

- Very Entertaining!5 star

Well written and very entertaining!

- Whole new perspective.5 star

I loved this book, this books explains the hood in a way that no rap song will explain it to you, it gives you a whole new perspective on how poverty develops and stays in society, it also shares in someway the wisdom that Trevor’s mom pass to him and the whole book itself is just fantastic.

- Great story5 star

Told with truth, I felt I got to know about a part of the world I wouldn’t have otherwise

- I relate5 star

I was genuinely shocked when I reached the end. I kept looking for a new chapter. This book is the epitome that is Trevor Noah-So good funny and serious. And being an African myself I found it to be so relatable. Well done sir.

- Loved it5 star

It was a funny and yet serious book. I can hear Trevor tell his childhood stories. I enjoyed every memory he shared.

- Great Book5 star

Extremely touching tale. I love the way the history of apartheid and it’s effect on South Africa was told to provide context for your narrative. If there is a book about your come-up in the comedy from South Africa to the U.S. I’d love to hear it.

- EPIC across the board. I couldn’t get enough of it.5 star

A read of its own kind. Not only are you taken through the history of apartheid in South Africa, it depicts a different angle of a mother’s love. I enjoyed Patricia, her faith, love and strength. It really is quite a thrill to be taken through this journey by Trevor Noah, understanding his back ground and seeing how accomplished he’s turned out to be. I highly recommend this book.

- Hahaha5 star

Trevor … Tsung-hele!! (I don’t know if I spelled that correctly.) What a great way to write your memoir. I listened to this and not only did I laugh a lot, but I learned a lot as well.

- Amazing Story, left with new perspective5 star

Being an American, I’ve heard about the apartheid and thought i had a general understanding but reading Trevor Noah’s experience growing up in South Africa gave me so much more insight. I see how the similarities that we experience here in America. It’s also very interesting to read about his upbringing and his childhood. Very unique and inspiring story with many lessons to learn from. Would definitely recommend and would read again!

- Fantastic Story!5 star

This book was amazing. I have never felt so connected to someone’s past. All the way from Trevor as a little boy to Trevor as a growing adult; I was inspired. Definitely a book worth sharing and reading again! After this. I hope to meet Trevor one day!

- Great read5 star

Witty... Reminds me too much of my eleven year old and myself.

- Thankyou5 star

I really admire you for putting this story down into a book,by sharing Your story , You helped me a lot,thank You .I hope one day I will be also able to share my story so I can move on ,memories and feelings are heavy burdens to bear . your Mom raised you really well, And you are great human being haha

- Fun read and entertainkng4 star

Trevor Noah is an excellent story teller, who gives us plenty of anecdotes about how his childhood shaped him. He allows readers to reflect on the intersections of the human experience as it pertains to marginalized groups. Through his narrative, Noah implicates the struggle of identity to our everyday lives, by looking at his life as a boy having survived apartheid. I love this book because it feels like even though Noah has lived in vastly different worlds, his experience is still like mine. He touches on feelings of love, hate, shame, passion, misunderstandings, class, race, and best of all, humor.

- Wow... Wow... Wow...5 star

An epic life of struggle and fortitude! A painful, but magnificent reminder of the all too often relationship between a mother, a son, and the strivings against poverty and the machine. Hats off for sharing your world Trevor... Much respect!

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- Born a Sin5 star

I respect Noah even more after reading this book. Awesome!!!

- Trevor Noah Is a Blessing!5 star

I cannot believe how good this book was it’s a page turner and I don’t even like autobiographies and this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.

- A definite must read!5 star

This book is amazing! I didn't know what I was expecting when I started the book but, I can't remember the last time I laughed and cried so hard. Some parts were heartbreaking but also relatable. I couldn't put it down.

- Amazing!!5 star

This book will put you through many emotions. You’ll laugh out loud, you’ll be mad, you’ll even be sad and you might even shed a tear. It’s like an autobiography with a history lesson all intertwined.

- He's supposed to be a comedian?1 star

They should've just cancelled the daily show instead of giving it to this guy. He's simply not funny.

- Inspiring story of hope and perseverance5 star

I have even more respect for Trevor after reading his story. It was hard to put down from the first chapter. He survived a rough childhood and maintains a wonderful sense of humor.

- Amazing5 star

This is the kind of book that makes you laugh and cry at the same time....and not in an “I’m insane” sort of way. It’s just a heart-felt story that makes you appreciate all that you have.

- An Excellent Read5 star

All I can say is you never know what a person has gone through until they let you see. My heart broke the minute his Mom was shot. While I don’t advocate violence I would have had someone kill Abel the first time he hit my Mother. I personally left mine and life has been so much better without him.

- Very interesting4 star

Normally I don’t like reading but this book was extremely interesting and insightful. I really enjoyed the book and the storyline.

- Great Read!5 star

Great Story! Great Read! Great Book!

- ❤️5 star

Having grown up in South Africa, this book explained so many feeling and emotions I have for the longest time suppressed and ignored. I related to a lot of small things in the book and the way he told it was gripping, I could not stop listening. Thank you so much for sharing your life story.

- This man is an idiot1 star

Just because he uses a few wittiscims and corny jokes does not make his writing an entertaining or meaningful read. I am a South African whose parents arrived in South Africa in 1969, as penniless refugees from the Communist invasion of their European homeland. I am so fed up with idiots like Noah milking the system with their “I had it so bad in South Africa ‘cos of that bad Nationalist government…” schtick. The likes of Noah are the cause of the miseries in the current South Africa, not the victims of it.

- Amazing5 star

I can only hope to be a mother like Trevor’s.

- Thank you5 star

Thank you so much for making my first few wks of nursing fun. I would read while nursing at night and let’s say I laughed by myself a few times in the middle of the night. I enjoyed reading about your life and love the relationship you have with your mother. From my little one and I thank you again . P.s it only took me a wk or so be to done with the book. Most time I drag myself with yours I couldn’t help but read every chance I got .

- Thank you.5 star

For writing a book for all of us mixed kids who never knew where to fit in until essentially now. Thank you for res presenting us on television and being a person who can be admired. I cried and I laughed throughout this book. I could not put it down. Seriously seriously kudos.

- Amazing!4 star

The lessons, funny moments, and life threatening events kept my eyes glued to the book!

- Born a crime5 star

Dude this book is amazing for real read this it will change your life. I've never cared so much about the story of some African kid it's a good book. Read it. Do it and you get a free Pokémon. Actually read it. Ok? Ok. See ya

- Worth the read5 star

I normally don’t read memoirs, biographies, etc, but I love Trevor Noah and I love they way he sees the world and how he in turns expresses his perspective to the masses so I had to see if his book was just as good. And it was. It’s an easy read and very entertaining. I highly recommend this read for young men as well. I have two growing boys who mixed race and I want to read this.

- Fast read5 star

Book was at times riveting, I simply was not able to put it down.

- Eye-opening and inspirational5 star

I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down! Before this, I thought Trevor came from a well-off family and led a privileged life! What a story! My favorite part was the dance performance in the Jewish school - it really shows how wrong we are to assume what "common knowledge" is. This is a well-written book that provides a glimpse into someone's life, a glimpse that is both relatable and yet hard to imagine at times. Much love to Trevor's mom - she is the best!

- thanks for g5 star

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- Funny and sad all at the same time5 star

Thank you Trevor for sharing your truth.

- Trevor Noah: Miracle Man5 star

A stunning work by a man whose mother generated miracles, not the least of whom is Trevor Noah. Now it is clear how he can critique shameful politicians with such grace and cheer. Thank you!

- BoOg's Review5 star

It was tastier than FiSh!

- Illogic of racism as told by Trevor's life5 star

Funny, bizarre, mind bending, extreme, sublime. Everybody should read this.

- Super Book! loved it5 star

Wow! what a memory jogger..Thank You.

- Great read5 star

Gripping stories and a true chronically of a slice of history in that part of the world otherwise easily forgotten. Well worth the read.

- Interesting read5 star

I was pleasantly surprised as I read this book. It was very well written and it was interesting to read about Trevor's experience in South Africa as a mixed race young man. He was able to share South Africa from his vantage point & experience the "privileges" of being white & experience the injustice of being black. I loved the strength and the tenacity of his mother & the lessons that she always taught him. I really didn't want the story to end. However, I am so glad the ending turned out the way that it did. I'm looking forward to more books by Trevor and to follow his journey.

- Trevor Noah!5 star

Trevor gives insight about growing up under apartheid in South Africa. Tells funny, heartwarming anecdotes about being raised by his grandmother and mom.

- Great5 star

Loved it

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@jrholberry @samparkercouk 3 months and I'll be the same age. Makes you think, what could we have done with our liv…

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the perpetrator of their alleged crime and evidence corroborating his guilt, he publicly pedaled the false allegati…

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@goodreads Born a crime by @Trevornoah

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The saga of #Vikasdubey..From first crime in 1990 to this date, the Man is a classic case of how mafias and dons ar…

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Excerpt From Born a Crime Trevor Noah

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@lawfullawful1: When I was born, in France, rape was not defined as a crime. (23 decembre 1980)

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@SharikaSoal84: I'm a survivor of black on black crime. I was born in chicago in 1984 to a 14yr old. I cannot believe I am forced to l…

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@poepicasso Got done with Trevor's Born a Crime Now onto The Art of war by Sun Tzu Will cap off the week with Aus…

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@INdnrnews this is reprehensible behavior and the fact that you have failed to act is equally reprehensible This is…

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@goodreads @Trevornoah 's Born a Crime... great book!

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