Born a Crime
By Trevor Noah
I finished listening to Amy Schumer’s Memoir-ish thingy, and I wanted more. I listened to this book on audio as well. I am glad I did.
I didn’t know much about Mr. Noah. If you’re new to this site then you wouldn’t know, I live outside the continental 48, heck all 50. So I miss the cultural changes in the world. My biggest connection to the states is mostly podcasts, largely NPR. So I must have heard about the transition from John Stewart to Trevor Noah on the Daily show that way. I probably should thank Terry Gross, but I can’t really remember for sure.
My experience with Amy Schumer’s memoir-ish comedy book included not a small amount of surprise and/or shock. She was very honest about the very raw parts of her life. Similarly, Noah’s story was shocking and surprising. He navigated this surprise well, throwing in a couple of surprises from the beginning, promising to fill in the rest of the story, and keeping the listener/reader waiting until the very end of the book to get the whole story.
Noah is a very entertaining performer. He’s good at voices and accents. He turned his reading into a performance. This is what I really wanted from Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, but didn’t really get. He brings all the stories to life. I felt like I was there, and I’ve never been to Africa, much less Apartheid-era-South-African-township Africa. I knew it, but it wasn’t personal. Noah made it feel personal, because, of course, it was for him.
He’s a good story teller. The book starts with his mother throwing him off a moving bus. Talk about an attention getter. He later describes how, indeed, his very existence was a crime. Miscegenation was illegal, so he, the child of a white and a black person, was just what the laws were trying to prevent. His mother threw him from the bus to save them both from hate of who they were. What a way to grow up.
He then takes us on a couple other journeys, at times returning to the bus incident, filling in gaps. Later he mentions that his step father shot his mother in the head, but leaves it to the end of the book to learn if she survived. I could google it easily, of course. But the unfolding is what makes it interesting.
Trevor Noah’s performances were excellent. His story was compelling. His writing was well-crafted. I highly recommend it.