Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood


Born a Crime is Trevor Noah's memoir of his childhood and adolescence in Johannesburg, South Africa.  When he was born in 1984 to a black mother and white father, it was illegal under apartheid to have a mixed-race child.  His early years were therefore filled with strange experiences, including walking separately from his mother so it wouldn't appear they were together in public.

As Noah unfolds the story of his life, the book becomes more and more a testament to his mother, who left her family in the townships and decided to raise her son alone, instilling in him the lessons and values that shaped his future.  By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, Born a Crime is an engaging, important memoir about growing up caught between two different worlds.

“Abel wanted a traditional marriage with a traditional wife. For a long time I wondered why he ever married a woman like my mom in the first place, as she was the opposite of that in every way. If he wanted a woman to bow to him, there were plenty of girls back in Tzaneen being raised solely for that purpose. The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women. 'He’s like an exotic bird collector,' she said. 'He only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.'"

Trevor Noah is a comedian, writer, and the host of The Daily Show.  Raised in South Africa, he now lives in New York, where he hosts The Daily Show on Comedy Central.  Born a Crime is his first book.

Published:  2016
Length:  224 pages
Set in:  Johannesburg, South Africa