Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Book Review


Stella Coughlin

By turns alarming, sad and funny…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

Genre: Autobiography

Length: 288 pages

Out of 5 stars: 5/5

If you like reading: Memoirs, Autobiographies, Comedic Writings


You may have heard the name Trevor Noah before. He’s a well-known comedian in America and the host of The Daily Show. He is famous for his humor, but not many people know the story of his childhood. In Born A Crime, readers learn about the daily struggles Noah faced having a South African mother and European father during apartheid in South Africa when it was illegal for an interracial family to exist. Not only does his book open readers up to his life, but it teaches about South Africa’s discriminatory history and the lives of people who live there. In the book, what readers might find shocking and saddening, Noah frames in a comedic light, and even cracks jokes about some of his traumatic childhood events. I was shocked, in particular, to learn about his two pet cats. Noah stated the history of South Africans and cats, letting readers know that some people thought cats to be witches. His mother did not believe this at all and got two cats for the family. One day, when he came home from school, the cats were hanging by their tails on his front gate in shocking condition. Surprisingly, at Trevor’s young age, he remarked, “Well, there you have it. Maybe if they’d been nicer, they could have avoided this.” Overall, his book is engaging, and while it is informative, it is entertaining throughout. His book was a joy to read, and I strongly recommend checking it out.