Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016)



The cover art and the subtitle: ‘Stories from a South African Childhood’ both create a facade of lightness to this memoir that’s actually the horrifying story of being born and raised under Apartheid when the white ruling class made all the rules and people of color had zero power or rights–and lowest of all were those of mixed race (which was literally a crime), the group Noah fit into. And yet, among the many dark and dreadful tales, he also tells gut-wrenching funny stories of disobeying his mother, trying to get out of church, or pooping on the floor because he doesn’t want to go to the damp and stinky outhouse. I read Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane many years ago as well as Nelson Mandela’s autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. I feel like the three books together give readers some understanding of Apartheid’s composite whole while offering differing aspects of its oppressiveness from some of those who lived it. And yet, I realize that so many who lived it did not survive and never had a chance to tell their story. This is such an important book–and so well written.