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  • Rahul Waslekar

A book review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah’s memoir, ‘Born a Crime’ takes you on a journey through Trevor’s childhood to his late adolescent stages in life. His conversational style of writing, makes readers indulge and visualise the settings, people and emotions that he has described. His style also makes the reading fast paced and manages to transports you to the post-apartheid era of South Africa in the 90s. It almost feels like he is personally read the book to you. The book is essentially an amalgamation of stories from his childhood. These are stories about race, his family, his attempt at finding love and even how he accidently became a DJ among many more.


Humour is a very important tool that is used to keep the readers engaged. This does not come to much of a surprise as Trevor Noah himself is a world renowned stand-up comedian. He uses humour in an almost elegant manner as he treads with a multitude of themes, including some heavy ones. You will find yourself chuckling, laughing or also with a plain smile on your face.

Born A Crime: Book Cover


The book also explores the theme of race and makes a differentiation between the lives, status, privileges of the different races present in South Africa during his childhood. Being a mixed child (with a black mother and white father, which was illegal at the time), Trevor describes how he often found it challenging to belong to one single race and hence tends to question his identity. Certain excerpts from the book shed light on the importance of race to Africans, which brings new perspective. However, using his wit and intellect, Trevor demystifies how language can be more important than race when defining ones identity.


Lastly, yet most importantly, Born a Crime was Trevor’s tribute to his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah. From his mother hurling him out of a fast moving vehicle, to the time she realised Trevor spent over a week in jail, he describes how his mother was his greatest and strongest pillar in life. Interestingly, Trevor uses the technique of starting and finishing the book describing and recounting his relation with his mother and about her life. This makes the book a full circle and all the more wholesome to read.


Trevor uses his wit, strong sense of humour and emotion to bring out the best of himself, making his autobiography a truly enjoyable, insightful and worthy read. I would highly recommend it to everyone!

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