South Africa – Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Recently, I’ve really gotten into audiobooks. I love how much an excellent narrator can make a story come to life, and I also enjoy the escape that hiding in my headphones offers. You can “read” while doing chores, taking a walk, and even on your commute! If you have a long TBR list, audiobooks is where it’s at.

And the audiobook that has perhaps been recommended to me the most is Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood. I listen to most audiobooks on the Libby app through the library, but Born a Crime seems to be exclusively available on Audible. So, I signed up for a free trial just so I could listen to Trevor’s book, which he narrates (wonderfully!) himself.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about Trevor Noah (nor do I even watch The Daily Show now that Jon Stewart is no longer the host). I knew he was from South Africa, which was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of him.

Similarly, aside from the obvious points about South Africa that were glossed over in school, I don’t really know much about the history and culture of the country which is why Born a Crime is such a treat.

What surprised me most about the book is that it solely covers his life in South Africa. Aside from maybe one or two sentences about his comedy career starting to take off, he doesn’t really discuss how he got into comedy, his move to the U.S., or how he was tapped to take over The Daily Show. (Hence the “childhood” part of the title.) Hopefully he’ll expand on that more in a future book!

Trevor was a bit mischievous in his younger years, and it’s incredible to read about how challenging his childhood was considering how far he has come today. His mother is Black and his father is White, which also had an impact on the opportunities (and lack thereof) that were available to him both during and post-apartheid. These were the stories and the insights into the culture of South Africa that I found most fascinating.

Most of all, his narration is fantastic. Hearing him use several different languages and accents made me feel like I was actually in South Africa. And I loved hearing him recount the words and phrases attributed to his mother and other family members. I’m sure he could hear his mother’s voice when he was recounting his childhood stories and he did his best to channel her for our benefit. And since he’s a comedian, many of Trevor’s stories are hilariously told – I laughed out loud more than once while listening to this book!

After finishing Born a Crime, I’ve been yearning to read and learn more about South Africa and continue my journey through the country. If you have any recommendations for other wonderful books set in South Africa, please share them in the comments!

Or if you’ve already read Born a Crime, let me know what you thought of the book!

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For more information: Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

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