“Born a Crime” is Trevor Noah’s autobiography, up to through the present. I’m a big fan of biography and autobiography, but because this was a book club read and came highly recommended from friends and students, I looked forward to this one. Many of those who had read it and recommended it to me, suggested that I listen to the audiobook; I’m so glad I did.
Mr. Noah narrates the book and adds an important layer to the story by giving the people their natural accents and pronunciations. As a speaker of Xhosa, Africaans, and Zulu, he integrates these languages into the narrative as they would’ve occurred in his life. Mr. Noah’s perspective and language abilities are a good representation of the layers of cultures and languages that make up South Africa.
This is the first time I’ve read a book from a biracial South African and the perspective gave me a lot to think about. I’ve read books by Black and White South Africans and ignorantly didn’t consider that someone who had a Black mother and a White father would have a drastically different experience. Learning about how Apartheid dictated the life of every single shade and color of people and created a complex social hierarchy made it clear to me just how destructive racially-based laws are. Even more disturbing to know that the government that began the apartheid system used the Jim Crow laws in the United States as well as other racially-based social structures from other countries. Using his natural humor as well as his knack for social analysis, Mr. Noah tells the story of his life in a fascinating and intriguing way. I recommend this for individuals and book clubs.