Born a Crime

I feel like it's been a really long time since I wrote any posts, but I guess it hasn't been all that long really.  A lot has happened, is all.  I went on a trip!  I visited one of my best friends, who now lives in Utah, and we went to a women's conference at BYU.  I spent a leisurely hour touring the BYU main library, and now I need to live there.  Otherwise, I've mostly been working a lot -- just a week and a bit left to go! -- hanging out with the family, and trying to get sort of caught up with the house in spare moments (a bootless effort, I fear).  Two very busy weekends in a row have meant no time for Howling Frog and now I have a large pile of books!  One of which is...

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah

You've probably seen this book everywhere; I know I have.  I know who Trevor Noah is, but I've seen almost nothing of what he's done, since I hardly watch any TV.  That does not matter, though, because this memoir is not at all about becoming a big star in comedy.  It's about growing up in South Africa, being born under apartheid and living through the post-apartheid years.  And it's especially about Noah's mother, who is about as dauntless and brave a person as you could hope to find.

Noah, with a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother, was literally 'born a crime' because apartheid was still in full force and cross-racial dating or marriage was punishable by prison time.   As you all know, the races were strictly divided into black, colored, and white -- and little Trevor looked colored but was not, which meant that he learned to navigate a lot of different groups and speak several languages, because he figured out that if he could speak to people as a member of the group, he was accepted as one. 

He was also, evidently, about the naughtiest kid ever born -- smart and undeterred by painful experience ("I never let the memory of something painful prevent me from trying something new"). 

This memoir consists largely of three ingredients: his mom's amazing bravery, insightful descriptions of how South African society worked, and his own hair-raising adventures.  Of course, Noah manages to turn events that must have been quite terrifying into comedic episodes that make you laugh -- without taking away the seriousness of what happened.  It's a very interesting read, and deserves the attention it's been getting.


  1. I loved this book! I also really like him on The Daily Show - he brings in such interesting, diverse guests, where most shows just interview the latest movie stars. And his sense of humor shines through in this book and on the show. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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