Looking for a gift for the book lovers and “The Daily Show” fans on your gift list?
A “New York Times” bestseller, “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood,” Trevor Noah’s autobiography is a fierce, funny, and unsparing look at growing up in South Africa after apartheid.
Viewers of “The Daily Show” will recognize the background material of Noah’s life; his South African upbringing has been the subject of many of his monologues. “Born a Crime,” however, offers the story behind the anecdotes, how the son of a black African woman and Swiss-German father grew up in the post-apartheid era where not much seemed to have changed. Poverty, injustice and racial conflicts were still the norm. His light skin made him stand out in the all-black township of Soweto. Playing in his grandmother’s house he’d “hear gunshots, screams, tear gas being fired into crowds.” Walking with his family outside, his father had “to walk across the street from us.”
“Born a Crime” is also a tribute to his remarkable mother, who grew up in a hut with 14 relatives. Sustained by her faith, she survived a gunshot wound to the head by Noah’s abusive stepfather and determined to raise Noah to be free of the need to “fix the problems of the past,” a burden she called “the black tax.”
Like his best comedy, “Born a Crime” balances humor with commentary. Noah inserts asides between the chapters to explain African culture and history. And there are many raucous moments, like his stories about going to the prom and his career as a D.J., throwing dance parties in a shantytown known as Gomorrah because it had “the wildest parties and the worst crimes.”
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