Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime

Name: Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Author: Trevor Noah
Publishing Date: November 15, 2016

I read the audiobook version by Audible

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African childhood by Trevor Noah is an honest and rightfully imperfect memoir that is both chilling and funny. The comedian and talk show host’s journey through poverty and injustice during South African apartheid has been performed well in the audio book, filled with character impressions by Noah himself. The account of his life amidst the several hardships he faced is presented in a realistic manner, and not sugar coated to seem attractive.

The Third World Factor
As a reader from India, I do not view the book as some sort of an exotic account from a rare species of mankind, living on another side of the planet. It is not just Trevor Noah who is a polyglot, in fact, if you possess the mindset of a coloniser then his linguistic abilities will be the only thing you take home from reading the book. For countries such as India and South Africa, discrimination, poverty, inequality and injustice is a form of everyday life and it is also common to speak more than one language.

An abusive man roams free in South Africa, the misogynistic police refuse to file cases of domestic violence…commoners go crazy over American fast food chains…These scenes form a pattern of a colonial hangover, discrimination and victimisation that is not limited to South Africa alone but to every third world country where it exists till this day.

I did not feel shocked, suddenly philanthropic or having the need to be a saviour after reading accounts of unjust state of affairs. Take for instance how Noah’s mother does not leave her abusive marriage even after several episodes of violence — only a person who grew up in a third world country would understand why. Noah, too rightly realises that some situations just cannot be changed for the better.

Instances of tough love from his mother form the soul of the book. His understanding, observations and realisations about life come from a humble place in his heart where adversity has shaped his character.