WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
Trevor Noah is a stand-up comedian from South Africa who has been hosting Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, succeeding Jon Stewart. I have been aware of Trevor’s work in comedy for about 2 years. I am a fan of his wit and humor. So, naturally, I wanted to read this book – Born a Crime. It is about Trevor Noah’s childhood. Trevor has on multiple occasions spoken about his mixed parentage (his mom is black woman and his dad is a white man from Switzerland). He was born during the Apartheid.
This book Born a Crime is divided into three parts, each of which contains small stories from his childhood, teenage and young adulthood. Although the stories are very interesting, they are not in chronological order. One story talks about his childhood, then the next story jumps into his young adulthood and then the next one back to his childhood. That is the only complaint I have about this book. The stories are really fascinating and give us a glimpse into a childhood in a different part of the world, in the same time as ours (1980s). It gave me the perspective on how different things could be for children across the globe even when they are born more or less in the same era.
Growing up as a mixed child in a black family, he discusses about the privileges he enjoyed over his black cousins. His grandmother’s refusal to punish him even when he was clearly in the wrong, saying, “How can I beat a white man?” gives us a perspective about the neverending debate on “privileges”. This also explains the extent to which blacks are brainwashed that whites are superior. He identifies himself as a black person, but he could talk and gel well with white people – as a result, he always felt as an outsider to any particular group. We get to glimpse the divide between so many other clans or tribes of Blacks with different languages of their own.
His shenanigans as a young adult are hilarious and terrifying. Trevor has a unique way of describing most horrific incidents in a very casual and in a matter-of-fact tone. We may as well say he is a victim but he never takes that tone, not even once. His relationship with his mother is heartwarming. Though she is a devout Catholic woman, she is refreshingly progressive. The book also has a couple of stories describing his early heart-breaks and crushes.
I really liked the style of writing, the stories and overall tone of the book. Some readers may find it hard to digest the fact that Trevor doesn’t take anything seriously in this book at least – for example the story titled “Go Hitler” – but I find the tone of the story true to the spirit of the book.
For me it’s a 4 star read on a perfect summer afternoon. Will I recommend it? Yes.
Review By Saroja Nimmagadda