65. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Everybody! this has got to be the best autobiography I’ve ever read till date!

There haven’t been many that I’ve come across, but I was hooked to every paragraph this book had. I’ve been a fan of Trevor Noah before The Daily Show came on air. And for those who live under a rock and with no contact to civilization, Trevor Noah is a South African comedian who indulges my fancy for political satire perfectly. #savage and #burn were literally invented for his acts.

“To this date I hate secondhand cars. Almost everything that’s ever gone wrong in my life I can trace back to a secondhand car.”

In this book Trevor Noah recounts his unique childhood during the days of Apartheid – a system of racial segregation among the “blacks” South Africans and “White” South Africans. He focuses on his mother and the mighty force she has been in his upbringing. Unconventional does not even define the way he was brought up or the way he lived his life.

(Picture from sahistory.org.za)

The title isn’t a fancy word-play, it was what the law at that time called children born to a “black and white” couple. It was illegal, rather the worst type of crime to intermingle with a member of a different race, and him being born to a Swiss/German Father and a South African mother, he was literally born a crime – according to the law. Read this if you want to know more about the law at that time.

“In Soweto you were always hearing about men getting doused with pots of boiling water…. Water was if the woman wanted to teach her man a lesson. Oil meant she wanted to end it.”

Nonetheless, all the chapters of the book begin with a page about a law or fact about the apartheid and it’s dire consequences, and immediately cutting to a childhood story. Noah has been unabashedly honest and true about his life even if it meant talking about selling pirated music mix CDs, electronics or even taking advantage of the superstitious beliefs of the people he lived with.

“British Racism said, ‘If the monkey can walk like a man and talk like a man, then perhaps he is a man.’ Afrikaner racism said, ‘why give a book to a monkey?'”

From getting his heart broken by his dog, the violence he had to bare from a drunk step dad or admitting to the naive ignorance people had at that time about racism rampant in other parts of the world that led to a very awkward and unintentionally insensitive encounter with Jews during a dance routine with the star dancer called Hitler, you won’t believe half the stories he narrates.

This book comes with no warnings and while making you laugh with tears in your eyes, you might even find actual tears of sadness on other occasions. Everyone needs to read this book.

Now, onto the basic points:

  1. Rating: 5.0/5.0
  2. Favorite quote:  “The racism code says of he doesn’t look like me he isn’t like me, but the language code says if he speaks like me he… is like me? Something is off here.”
  3. Reader level: The storytelling flows like a calm river, you’ll have no difficulty whatsoever.
  4. Should you read:  Yes Yes Yes!!!
  5. Would I read it again: Oh, definitely yes!!



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