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Born a crime : stories from a South African childhood
2016
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Summary
The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime New York Times bestseller about one man's coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah's unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents' indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa's tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man's relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother--his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother's unconventional, unconditional love.
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Booklist Review
*Starred Review* South African comedian Noah brings a fresh and tonic perspective to the role of host for The Daily Show, frequently joking about life as a mixed-race child under the tyranny of apartheid. He now reveals the full brunt of the terror and diabolical absurdity he endured in this substantial collection of staggering personal essays deftly shaped by his stand-up gifts for timing and precision. Incisive, funny, and vivid, these true tales are anchored to his portrait of his courageous, rebellious, and religious mother, who defied racially restrictive laws to secure an education and a career for herself and to have a child with a white Swiss German even though sex between whites and blacks was illegal; neither parent could be seen in public with their son. So dangerous was life for mischievous, polyglot Noah that he spent much of his time alone indoors and later endured hunger, homelessness, jail, and violence. But his episodic and electrifying memoir sparkles with funny stories of epic teen awkwardness, astounding accounts of his nervy entrepreneurial success as a music bootlegger and DJ, and vibrant and insightful descriptions of daily life in Johannesburg and Soweto. Noah's coming-of-age paralleled South Africa's emergence from apartheid, and his candid and compassionate essays deepen our perception of the complexities of race, gender, and class. Hopefully, Noah will continue to tell his bracing and redefining story. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: High-powered promotion will push celebrity comedian Noah's book forward, and buzz about just how excellent a work it is will sustain readership.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist
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