BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD

by Trevor Noah

GENRE: memoir, autobiography, humour

CEFR LEVEL: B2 and above

“As a kid I understood that people were different colors, but in my head white and black and brown were like types of chocolate. Dad was the white chocolate, mom was the dark chocolate, and I was the milk chocolate. But we were all just chocolate.”

Trevor Noah, Born a Crime

If you don’t know who Trevor Noah is, then let me introduce you to him. He is the TV host of The Daily Show in the US, a comedian, political commentator, writer, producer and actor … oh, and did I tell you that he also speaks 6 languages fluently?

Luckily for us, Noah is also a great storyteller because he has some amazing stories to tell. He was born in apartheid South Africa. As if that wasn’t hard enough, his existence was an actual crime because he was the child of a white father and a black mother. In this memoir, we learn all about his childhood up until when he was starting his comedy career after high school. Each chapter is a story in itself, beginning with a short preface, generally about the social and historical context behind the events that Noah recounts.

The stories are a combination of funny, dramatic, and very sad and moving: surviving first loves in high school, being thrown out of a moving car, attending a private Catholic school, to name a few. And as you read, you build a picture of Noah’s mother, Patricia, and her unconventional and unconditional love for her son; a woman who was determined to give her son the best life.

We recently discussed one of the chapters/stories in my book club and it was very well received. If you have a B2 level but the idea of starting a novel feels too much, I totally recommend this memoir. The chapters are so accessible, Noah’s writing style is direct and although he deals with some tough issues, you will find yourself laughing and crying in equal measure. Try it. You won’t regret it.

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