Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Back to non-fiction again. Trevor Noah writes about his childhood in South Africa incredibly touchingly in this memoir covering his life up to about his early twenties. I listened to this as an audiobook, which I would absolutely recommend – Noah’s voice is brilliant to listen to, and you will have the benefit of hearing the many South African languages he refers to spoken properly.

noah, trevor

Recognising what in your own memories is interesting to other people is a bit of a tricky skill – as is knowing what people from outside the culture you grew up in might need explaining about it. But Trevor Noah handles these things apparently effortlessly. I didn’t know a lot about South Africa or Apartheid before reading this book. As well as being moving and personal, this book helped me understand far better something quite far removed from my own life.

The descriptions Noah gives of the sights and sounds of his growing up are very vividly given and really transporting. While the scope of the book is Noah’s whole childhood, what comes through at the forefront is his relationship with his mother. The many sides of her personality are so strongly conveyed that by the end of the book I was very fond of her myself.

Memoirs can be unpredictable – the skills someone is famous for don’t necessarily always translate to writing a book cohesively. But Noah is a very good writer, able to construct a story out of the smallest anecdote and give you plenty of interesting information along the way. If you’re ever looking for a well-written memoir which is both moving and incredibly funny, this is so worth picking up. I found it both surprising and really heart-warming; a wonderful surprise of a book.

Book Only


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