Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Audible Audiobook, Unabridged
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Highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers
Winner: Audible's Best of 2016 - Celebrity Memoirs
In this award-winning Audible Studios production, Trevor Noah tells his wild coming-of-age tale during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa. It’s a story that begins with his mother throwing him from a moving van to save him from a potentially fatal dispute with gangsters, then follows the budding comedian’s path to self-discovery through episodes both poignant and comical. Noah’s virtuoso embodiment of all the characters from his childhood, and his ability to perform accents and dialects effortlessly in English, Xhosa, and Zulu, garnered the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator in 2018. Nevertheless, Noah’s devoted and uncompromising mother—as voiced by her son—steals the show.
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|Listening Length||8 hours and 44 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||November 15, 2016|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #98 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#1 in Comedic Performing Arts
#3 in Humor Essays (Books)
#5 in Rich & Famous Biographies
Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2019
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Top reviews from the United States
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The story he tells here is filled with a pathos that can only be readily heard when ensconced in his great comedic style. His early life growing up in South Africa was filled with poverty, crime, disillusionment, hunger, abject racism, and more. In the end, I’m reminded of a line from Maya Angelou - “And still we rise.” Noah’s ability to continually rise despite his early life circumstances is, in part, I’m sure due to his well-honed ability to find humor in all of this.
Top reviews from other countries
We're told that Trevor being mixed race, a crime during apartheid, meant that he had to be hidden away and that his grandmother wouldn't let him leave the house or even play in the yard - but then we're also told that he was so well known in the neighbourhood that people would point him and his mother out, and also that they went to three different churches (black, white and coloured) several times a week. He also talks about how his mother paid no mind to the rules and that she and Trevor went everywhere and experienced lots of different things - so which is it? Was he hidden away for fear that the authorities would take him away, or was living a full and varied life with a mum determined to give him many experiences? Since he makes both these claims, how are we to know?
Similarly, we're told that he and his mother were so poor that they often resorted to eating broth from bones the butcher sold for dog food, but then he talks about the weekly car trips he and his mother took, and how his mother would buy a ton of fireworks every single year for Guy Fawkes. Another example is how he talks about being very aware of the constant threat of danger and violence, but then talks about how his scholarship to a private school from the age of three meant it was years before he was aware of the reality of apartheid. It all quickly smacks of a narrator who is wildly exaggerating the story at one end or the other and who can't keep track of what they've said, which then stops the reader feeling at all invested. Everyone knows that autobiographies aren't 100% accurate, but so many contradictions just gets annoying, fast.
I'll often plough to the end of a book even if it's annoying me, but I checked out at the point where Trevor talks about how in their culture, black cats were perceived as witches, and how his mother got two black kittens anyway. When they returned home one day to find them dead, horribly mutilated and hanging from their gate, Trevor's reaction was simply to think that cats are dicks anyway, and the cats deserved it for not showing him affection. This seemed to be not only the reaction he had at the time, but the way he still feels about it in retrospect, so I had no interest in reading any further. Glad I only spent 99p on the kindle version, but it wasn't even worth that.
Reading 'Born A Crime' was such an eye-opening insight into what was actually going on during and after Apartheid. Firstly, Noah is only 33. Apartheid ended in living memory. It's a terrifying thought, how recent that is. Which leads onto my next point: we weren't taught about this nearly enough.
It's always different hearing about these sorts of experiences from someone who lived through it. Particularly because Noah is biracial. He didn't look black enough to be black, despite growing up around black people and never seeing himself as anything else. But he also wasn't white enough to be white. His family weren't particularly well-off. He didn't have the latest brands. He fit in enough that he was still an outsider, always flitting from group to group.
His mother, thought, is a force to be reckoned with. She's incredibly strong and independent. As a single mother with a biracial child she had to be. She actively sought out ways to undermine the white authorities. It was Noah and his mother against the world. A team. It was wonderful to read about such a strong family bond. Despite everything going crazy around them they had each other.
This isn't just the story of a young man's rise to fame, but a story of family, support, and unconditional love.
I found his journey and that of his family (especially his mother) fascinating. Not only do we get to read his bio, but we also get an insight into what it was like being a child growing up during apartheid in South Africa.
His writing style and his personality reflect how he is on tv, he is intelligent, funny, charming and honest.
Without spoiling anything - be prepared for a roller coaster ride.
Was very disappointed when I got to the end of the book. I may have to read it again!
I thoroughly recommend it.
This excerpt... literally, mind blown:
“Yes, it was horrific. But I often wonder, with African atrocities like in the Congo, how horrific were they? The thing Africans don’t have that Jewish people do have is documentation. The Nazis kept meticulous records, took pictures, made films. And that’s really what it comes down to. Holocaust victims count because Hitler counted them. Six million people killed. We can all look at that number and rightly be horrified. But when you read through the history of atrocities against Africans, there are no numbers, only guesses. It’s harder to be horrified by a guess.”
Also , the author contradicts himself a few times , which makes me think that perhaps there is a bit of ‘poetic licence ‘ in this book . Also , there is virtually nothing about hoe he started in his career , we leave him freshly out of Jail , and it then jumps to his Mum being shot and all we know is that at that point he had been estranged from him Mum a, living with his cousin and was a comedian . Ok . How did all of that happen ?
A shame, really , as with some editing it could have been a good book .