This is Jessi Wakefield with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out.
Today I would like to recommend the very funny, very poignant autobiography Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah.
Twenty-two years ago, on a fledgling cable television station a thirty-minute show about news and political satire hit the airwaves. It quickly went from an obscure show to a television juggernaut under the helm of John Stewart. When Stewart retired from the position in 2015 everyone was wondering what big-name personality was going to fill that seat behind the desk. When it was announced that Trevor Noah was the new captain of the ship, most of America said, “Trevor Who?”
Born a Crime retells stories of Noah’s life growing up, as he says, “colored”. He tells of his extremely religious mother who gave birth to Trevor in a time where is was illegal to have relations with a person of a different race. The moment he came into the world he was evidence of a crime. This crime meant that he would live with his black mother, and only see his white father in secret.
Young Noah developed a social and mental skills that helped him during difficult times. His mother taught him English, and several other South African tribal languages to give him a leg up in his world, as well as give him the tools needed to handle the extremes of being both black and white, but also being neither. He tells of life in an overcrowded government reserved township, and sharing a small home with several members of his extended family. Through it all his mother administered tough love and a “put a fear of God in ya” type discipline.
Born a Crime is a quick read that takes little vignettes of Noah’s life and weaves them to create a book that made me angry of injustice in one sentence and then laugh out loud from his perspective in the next. Noah is able to write in a way where you as a reader can hear his voice come through the pages. Each chapter of the book is full of character, humor, but also gives insightful and maddening examples of injustice, segregation, and blatant systematic racism.
Come to the Sioux City Public Library to check out Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and experience a humorous yet eye opening account of a life from a South African childhood.
Support from Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.