Trevor Noah – Born a Crime (book review)

Having been a long-time Trevor Noah fan, since his “Tonight Show with Trevor Noah”, I can recite most of his jokes verbatim. The only thing is, mine always ends with, “mxm, you should see how Trevor does it”.

Trevor is a great artist, painting vibrant pictures with his comedic stories. Because of his genre of work, it is sometimes easy to miss the great sense of culture the man has. His book, however, displays that perfectly. Trevor is rooted in culture and is as pure a South African as they come.

I’ve never been an avid bookworm, but I recently grew a distinct love for many things homegrown. I decided to pick up “Born a Crime” and finished it in a week. To put that into perspective, I’m still busy reading a book of similar length for just over a year now.

It was gripping and took me on a long, emotional roller-coaster. Trevor speaks about his upbringing, with him and his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, at the very centre of it. He describes them as being team-mates, which is emphasized by his mother’s sentiment she constantly shared with him as a boy. “It’s me and you against the world”.

He grew up during apartheid. Although it being close to the “end” of it and near to the start of democracy, it was still long enough for him to be affected by it first-hand. Where and how they lived was greatly influenced by the governmental system of the day.

Trevor leads readers into his day-to-day as a young boy right through to his young adult years, which were filled with everything from a makeshift business of pirating to DJ’ing to petty theft and routine loan-sharking just to get by. We experience his romantic encounters in a three-part series of chapters accurately dubbed as “A Young Man’s Long, Awkward, Occasionally Tragic, and Frequently Humiliating Education in Affairs of the Heart”. He also let’s readers into the abuse he was subjected to as a boy, most of which were at the hands of his then step father.

The book ends with one of my favourite chapters, the gripping “my mother’s life”, tying together many of the bits and pieces that led up to it. Ending with a horrifying event, one that I don’t intend on spoiling for potential readers, I was left in both shock and awe.

Despite many serious and deeply emotional revelations, Trevor’s comedic personality was evident throughout the book.

His mom – a woman of faith… strong, “Jesus is my medical aid” Christian faith, was determined to raise a man whose future won’t be determined by his circumstances. With that faith came the fact that the rod was not spared. Something all too familiar to Trevor. It turns out she did a pretty good job, I’d say.

This is one book that made me look back at my childhood. I could relate to some of the things Trevor experienced. Although, being a coloured looking kid in a black family during apartheid – he was arguably worse off.

It’s a guaranteed laugh and a guaranteed tear jerker at the same time and a book I’d definitely recommend to anyone, especially South Africans.

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below. Also, what’s your favourite Trevor Noah joke/story? 🙂


  1. My favourite is definitely his poop story .. I probably read that over and over again! This book was truly my favourite and I’m so excited to watch the movie! And slightly nervous, because majority of the movies based on books never does it justice, let’s hope! Second favourite sorry will definitely have to be the one about his dog! Trevor killed this book! And I can relate to trying to retell the jokes, but when I fail, YouTube saves me further embarrassment.

    1. Haha Voni I had a good laugh when it came to those parts, poor dog was abused but he managed to find the funny in it lol. As for the long drop… Eish. That was hectic. 😂 I saw an interview he did with Oprah concerning that. U should check it out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *