Noah’s memoir is extraordinary in its observations of South Africa in the years when apartheid crumbled. It’s equally unusual in the troubling personal story it tells. Throw in Noah’s sharp, droll prose style, and you have a book that feels like essential reading on every level.
...what makes Born a Crime such a soul-nourishing pleasure, even with all its darker edges and perilous turns, is reading Noah recount in brisk, warmly conversational prose how he learned to negotiate his way through the bullying and ostracism ... Consider Born a Crime another such gift to [his mother] — and an enormous gift to the rest of us.
...[a] gripping biography ... while Noah is deft at exposing and ridiculing the incongruities and absurdities of a racist state, he never quite turns the corner into a full-fledged critique of the idea of race itself—something his own biography would seem to beg for ... Noah’s memoir relates, in vivid and moving terms, how his life prepared him for the public role he now occupies, drawing on his unique vantage point to cut through and illuminate our shared trauma.
By turns alarming, sad and funny, his book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid and the country’s lurching entry into a postapartheid era in the 1990s ... Born a Crime is not just an unnerving account of growing up in South Africa under apartheid, but a love letter to the author’s remarkable mother.
... this isn’t one of those comedian-penned essay collections where the yuks jump out at sitcom speeds. Yet there’s still plenty of humor; Noah proves to be a gifted storyteller, able to deftly lace his poignant tales with amusing irony.
Americans will know Trevor Noah much better after reading his terrific new memoir ... Noah has a real tale to tell, and he tells it well ... Among the many virtues of Born a Crime is a frank and telling portrait of life in South Africa during the 1980s and ’90s ... Occasionally, the book’s loose structure works to its detriment, and some chapters feel more developed than others. Short explanatory passages between chapters feel unnecessary...But these are quibbles.
...the rollicking yet tender Born a Crime, provides further indication that Noah’s is a necessary voice for these times. In addition to that, it’s a great read ... Throughout the memoir, Noah slyly illuminates the absurdities of a society built on racial hierarchy.
His extraordinarily heartfelt, compulsively enriching Born a Crime is a hell of a memoir ... Noah produces a striking, evocative, constantly surprising, tremendously heartbreaking, persistently funny and absorbing true-life account, one that never fails to capture his clear-eyed conviction, echoing pathos, sharp perception and sense of humor ... Although Mr. Noah’s life story is beguiling, bewildering and typically demanding, to put it mildly, it’s also refreshingly honest, and constantly lacking signs of melancholy or self-pity. It’s rich in content and scarce in self-righteousness, allowing us to see how comedy didn’t merely keep his family life alive, but flourishing through great difficulties and stunning adversaries.
Noah is direct but never unfunny about growing up biracial in the post-apartheid era. His mother is an influential partner at every step along his journey ... Throughout the book, Noah reveals many examples of his mother’s stubborn determination to prevent apartheid from suffocating her free spirit. Humor became a survival mechanism for both her and her son ... for all the pain, Born a Crime made me laugh — a lot. The love between Noah and his mother, and their resilience, left me inspired in these post-election days, when stories of hope and resistance are sorely needed.
...[a] compelling new memoir ... His fierce mother, a woman who 'gives and gives and gives,' is the true hero of this book...She was determined to give her son more than just survival. Against all odds, she gave him hope. And humour. She made the brutality of life bearable with her tenacious heart, brave spirit and sharp wit. And now her son will do the same for his adopted country.