Book Review – Born a Crime by Trevor Noah


Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah is a compelling and well written autobiographical comedy book that gives the reader an insight on life during Apartheid South Africa. The rustic, detailed imagery and thrilling short stories from his past offers the reader an exhilarating yet informative insight of what it’s like to live and grow up in a racially torn country. (Photo courtesy of the New York Times)

Trevor Noah’s novel, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African childhood, is an excellent first person biography of his life and his own personal experiences growing up in South Africa.

Throughout each chapter of the book, Noah provides the reader with short stories from his life as a South African child living during the Apartheid era. Each short story shows how Noah learns to overcome obstacles of racism, cultural barriers, and poverty. 

These recurring themes push Noah to his limits. Living in Apartheid South Africa, Trevor Noah learns how to adapt and overcome these boundaries in order to mature and prosper his own life. Throughout the book, Noah uses different methods to engage the reader within his short stories to further inform the audience of what life was like living in a torn apart country.

As the book progresses, Noah offers the reader the ability to relate and laugh with the story. With a touch of comedic relief, Noah uses his sense of humor to further engage the reader. Noah also uses comedy and dark humor to further explain the comedic, yet informative tone of his stories to draw attention to the mood of the novel as well.

Noah does a great job with his attention to detail and imagery as well. As each chapter portrays a different short story, Noah makes sure to provide the reader with scenic detail of each and every character and setting. This allows the reader to firmly grasp a better understanding of Noah’s perspective and generic setting throughout the book.

Grant Silver, Leesville Road High School junior, previously read Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. Silver claims that through Noah’s attention to detail and imagery, he is further able to gain a better understanding of what life was like for him growing up. 

“The use of descriptive imagery and attention to detail shows me a glimpse at what poverty and life was like in South Africa in the late 80s and early 90s,” said Silver via text message. 

Silver also makes the claim of how the novel’s use of imagery and detail gives further insight into each short story, creating a more intriguing and interesting plot. “Certain use of imagery and anecdotes intrigued me in the book, for example the scenery and detail of plot made the bus jumping scene more interesting.” 

For short attention span readers, like myself, this biography does a great job of keeping the reader’s interest throughout the entire book. Never did I encounter a dull moment when reading each short story.

Overall, Noah does an excellent job with Born a Crime. His attention to constructive detail and descriptive pieces of imagery help the reader understand life in South Africa. The use of comedic relief helps the reader further relate with Noah’s short stories. By using a simple detailed sentence structure to ensure clarity, Noah keeps the reader’s interest from the moment you open the cover. I personally have no negative remarks toward the book, for it exceeded my expectations as a well constructed, yet informative biography of Noah’s life. 

I would strongly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about life growing up in Apartheid South Africa, or learning about the morals of racism, poverty, and overcoming the obstacles of life.


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