Wednesday, 6 June 2018

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

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah Flat Lay

Rarely do audiences  get access to go beyond the glossy, bright-eyed, funny man surface of  many  comedians and there's a pretty well-established line between the two. Born a Crime is essentially, Trevor Noah, drawing his fans in and showing us the other side. 

The memoir chronicles Noah's childhood growing up mixed-race in apartheid South Africa, where laws prohibited any romantic or sexual relationship between black and white people. Trevor's mum being Xhosa and his dad being a white Scot, meant he was a living example of their crime, a crime which could've landed Trevor's mum in jail and Trevor in an orphanage. In the first chapter alone, we see his family having to physically hide him from the police and his mum walking yards behind him every time they were in public, so  people wouldn't clock that they were related. His life experiences are pretty wild and really opened my eyes to the reality of apartheid. Looking at Trevor Noah now, it's pretty unbelievable to imagine his life prior to comedy. And let me tell you, some of these anecdotes will make you reflective, laugh, feel uncomfortable and often at the same time. There's a particular exchange Trevor had with his step-dad that was so laugh-out-loud funny and yet so painful ... I'm still trying to work out what the appropriate response should've been. 

Apartheid South Africa is very much the forefront of this book. As readers, we see how it essentially relegated whole communities into lives of  hardship and poverty which Trevor's family were not exempt from.  Both Trevor and his mum go through some tough times that essentially forge a tangible bond between them - a relationship that also takes centre-stage in the book and is so beautiful and seamlessly executed.

I reckon a lot of us won't fully relate to his life but; he writes with such warmth and affinity for his country (despite its complexities) and his mum and their incredible bond, that is so universal and transcends class and all backgrounds. 

The beauty of this book is the way it navigates the hardship, joy and pain in such a tangible way. He announced a few months ago the book is being adapted into film and I can't wait ! But definitely get a copy of this book before venturing into the cinema. Born a Crime is the most pleasantly surprising page-turner. 


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