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Born a Crime

Stories from a South African Childhood
Written by: Trevor Noah
Narrated by: Trevor Noah
Length: 8 hrs and 44 mins
5 out of 5 stars (5,399 ratings)

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Audible Editor Reviews

Editors Select, November 2016 - Just as fans of The Daily Show weren't quite sure what to expect when he was announced as the show's new host, I started Born a Crime not really knowing what I'd find in Noah's book. Comedy? Political and social commentary? Sure, but not in the way I expected. Instead, I was given so much more. Noah's story is intertwined with the final years and aftermath of apartheid-era South Africa. It's a story that begins with Noah's mother throwing him from a moving car to avoid a potentially fatal dispute with gangsters and follows the comedian's path to self-discovery amid episodes both bittersweet and comical. It's eloquent and touching and funny and made all the better with his reading, especially as he recounts anecdotes involving his mother - the true show stealer - and delivers clever turns of phrase as only a top-notch comic and storyteller can.

Publisher's Summary

Highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers

Winner: Audible's Best of 2016 - Celebrity Memoirs 

In this award-winning Audible Studios production, Trevor Noah tells his wild coming-of-age tale during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa. It’s a story that begins with his mother throwing him from a moving van to save him from a potentially fatal dispute with gangsters, then follows the budding comedian’s path to self-discovery through episodes both poignant and comical. Noah’s virtuoso embodiment of all the characters from his childhood, and his ability to perform accents and dialects effortlessly in English, Xhosa, and Zulu, garnered the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator in 2018. Nevertheless, Noah’s devoted and uncompromising mother—as voiced by her son—steals the show. 

©2016 Spiegel & Grau (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Comedian Trevor Noah's stories of growing up in South Africa are vivid, sometimes harrowing, and often laugh-out-loud funny. The bonus of audio is that listeners get to HEAR Noah tell these stories in his South African-accented English, as well as hear him speak snippets of various other South African languages. Noah (who succeeded Jon Stewart as the host of 'The Daily Show') is a natural storyteller - skilled, engaging, and relatable.... Noah's narration offers insights and intimacy." (AudioFile)

"The author’s gift for vocal impersonation elevates the audio version into something even more splendid than an already terrific memoir.” (The Washington Post)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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Superb

I listened to it twice; back to back. That's a testament. I laughed (aloud, in public), was shocked, saddened at times, and I feel I learned not only about another person, but their culture too. I loved it.

28 of 31 people found this review helpful

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This guy could read me the phone book! *swoon*

I really dig Trevor's accent and his ability to mimic other people's voices and accents. It really made his story come alive for me. I was so intrigued and drawn in, it inspired me to learn more about a part of the world I am quite ignorant about. I listened to this book every chance I got and I'm looking forward to listening to his podcasts. Truly a brilliant storyteller.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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An amazing story!

This book took me only a week to read. it was so thoughtfully written, put in such a perspective that really helps the reader understand how circumstances and situations are so impactful to the outcome of people's lives. the complexity of growing up in apartheid are so much more apparent in reading this. the author was serious, yet funny which keeps the tone light but maintains the impact of the story.

#Audible1

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Best book I have listened to so far on audible.

Hilarious, heartfelt and raw stories brought to life with wit and accents. It was really a pleasure to listen to. His story is very dynamic and unique yet often very relatable. I would recommend listening to it rather than reading print because of the ways he recreates the dialogues in different accents and languages, this adds so much to the action! A must read (audio) book!!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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What an incredible and inspiring story!

I don't know if I would have enjoyed this book as much if I'd read it rather than listened. Trevor Noah's spirited reading, his mastery of all the African languages and accents, and of course his personal connection to the stories made it entertaining from start to finish.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Honestly...

Trevor Noah's life story is too amazing for words. A truly brilliant piece of work!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Extremely beautiful!

This is an incredible read. It is so vivid and tells lots of funny and heartbreaking experiences of Trevor Noah’s life. I absolutely loved it! There are many profound philosophical ideas in the book and I love his mother to bits after reading this. She is a true hero! Also, it’s performed by him so it makes it even better.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful

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this is what they call a must-read... must-listen?

I'm so happy that i picked this book as my first audible experience. To hear his accent and vocal impersonations felt like the age old storytelling tradition...which I enjoyed. I also learned so much about South Africa and its people. We all know about Nelson Mandela, but Trevor gave us another perspective told from a younger generation's voice. I've always thought trevor noah was a classy, good looking dude maybe from a wealthy, educated family. Wow! to learn how tough his life was. Yet he always found the humor in it all. loooooved this from beginning to end

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Forever memorable

Laugh, learn, wonder, admire and gain perspective and that's just Chapter 1 ! my 11 year old son was hooked on the book also. Amazing story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Insightful and Funny

Fantastic to listen to. Hilarious and heartwrenching. Trevor Noah has a story to share and he articulates it perfectly. I feel like we are friends after finishing the book and I hope he writes more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-06-03

Repetitive

Repetitive and not really iinteresting. A series of stories, barely held together . His stand up is deeper than this.

115 of 140 people found this review helpful

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  • Kierst Rabinowitz
  • 2017-03-30

Reviews were a bit misleading

Based on the reviews I read, I expected more. It wasn't a tragic life story, or super funny story.
It's an ok story.
Guess the hype, from the reviews, led me to hope for something more.

100 of 122 people found this review helpful

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  • Alfred Fredel
  • 2018-08-25

An interesting take on life yet a bit disturbing

As someone who is blind, I love audible because the books are narrated to me. I made this selection because I enjoy listening to the rider on his comedy show. He is very entertaining and can tell a good story. For the most part, I find his commentary is generally on point. This book gives you a glimpse into his mind and gives you a little background about the life that he has had while growing up in South Africa. I found the issues regarding domestic violence and his family situation to be quite disturbing, but I understand where his viewpoint is coming from because it was a very terrible situation. There were many things in the book that were quite funny and I enjoyed much of his narrative. I had a little bit of a problem with the story regarding the time where he was a DJ and had a lead dancer Who was given the name of Hitler. His explanation of the situation and the reason why this person was named after one of the most notorious people in history is uncomfortable. Other than these two things, I would recommend this book to others with the caveat that it might be a little much for some.

69 of 84 people found this review helpful

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  • Betty S. Humphries
  • 2017-11-29

Love Trevor Noah....story a bit redundant

TN is a good story teller, I learned much about SAfrica and the era of apartheid
It got a little redundant as the story went on

104 of 127 people found this review helpful

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  • Cyndi
  • 2018-05-15

Insightful

Thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book. Felt like it bogged down a little (seemed repetitive) in the second half up to the last 10% and then finished strong. Still had unanswered questions tho about his father, friends and career that I would have liked to seen closure on. Overall though a positive read/listen.

77 of 94 people found this review helpful

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  • DC in FL
  • 2017-03-04

Not Funny at all

I was very disappointed because this book is all about Trevor growing up under Apartheid.

90 of 110 people found this review helpful

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  • Marilyn Armstrong
  • 2016-12-15

Great book and perfect narration

I don't review a lot of books anymore, but this one got to me. There are lots of books written by people -- including me -- who had a hard time growing up. Abusive parents, poverty, oppression. War. There is a lot of awful stuff children endure.

Trevor Noah endured all of it. Name something bad that a kid can experience and it probably happened to him. Born under apartheid, his existence was illegal. His birth was, as the title of his book suggests, a crime.

As the child of a white father and a black mother under South Africa during apartheid, if he had been noticed by the authorities, they would have taken him from his family and put him ... somewhere. So merely surviving until the end of apartheid was no mean feat. Add to that extreme poverty, violence and life under the most oppressive, racist regime you can imagine. Actually, you may not be able to imagine it. I knew it was bad, but South Africa refined oppression into an art form.

One of the other noteworthy things about this book was that I learned great deal about things I thought I already knew. I don't know if Noah intended it as a cautionary tale, but it is. Chilling.

I didn't read the book. I listened to the audiobook because Noah reads it himself. He has a beautiful, melodic voice and a lovely cadence. It was a treat for my ears and my brain.

You might think with all of this terrible stuff -- and some of it is really horrific -- that this would be an angry, possibly embittered man. But he isn't.

He's funny when humor is possible. Even when he's serious, there is grace and wit -- plus a sweetness and generosity of spirit that's rather uplifting. I don't think I've ever said that about a book. It's not a word I use lightly. Trevor Noah is a rare person, able to appreciate the good stuff in his life and not obsess over the considerable amount of injustice he has experienced.

I'm not usually a big fan of celebrity memoirs or autobiographies, but this is exceptional. If you have the patience, listen to it as an audiobook. Otherwise, consider reading it. He's a smart guy, a good writer, and an astute observer of humanity, government, politics, and relationships. Insightful, witty, and entertaining, I highly recommend it.

834 of 1,026 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara Cross
  • 2018-05-31

Boring

I realize there are a lot of important things covered in this book, I just didn’t care for Trevor doing the reading. It seems like he’s talking to his teenage friends the whole time and I got tired of him.

107 of 131 people found this review helpful

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  • mszzz
  • 2017-12-08

Disjointed

I enjoyed Trevor’s performance but the story jumped around too much and was hard to follow. With random antidotes at the end of various chapters. Would have been more enjoyable if the story was chronological.

107 of 131 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • 2017-08-06

Sounds similar to my poor white youth in 1950's US

Poor and White or black in 1950's was somewhat similar, except growing up in California we did not see the racism as in other states. Plus, didn't know we were poor since everyone around us was the same... until attending high school. So, that aspect of the book was not very hitting to my soul in this book. Wish he could have driven home better his experience of how bad the racism was, but I felt that Noah was able to skip along the boarder of it because of his color and upbringing. His criminal activity in youth shows how the effects of who you hang with will influence your life possibly more than a strong parent. Teach a man to fish and he will be able to feed himself for life. .. Noah repeated this by following up: except they didn't give him/the poor a fishing pole. Noah repeated this often, yet he changed his life like I believe the saying really teaches: Make choices to take control of your life and do not depend on others to Give you a fishing pole.
Interesting young life story, but not yet lived a life that has the gravitas to have a full depth of a autobiography.

107 of 131 people found this review helpful

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  • Cheerioh
  • 2019-01-21

Histoire super intéressante, super bien lu

Un des meilleurs livres audio que j'ai pu écouter jusque-là. My, my, c'était tellement bien. C'est un livre qui avait fait le buzz mais ô objectif mérité. J'ai tellement appris de choses sur la vie de cet homme en Afrique du Sud. La personnalité incroyable de sa mère, ses bêtises, l'univers tellement particulier de ce pays pour un petit gars ni blanc ni noir. Ça vaut vraiment le détour. Je recommande à 200%. En plus c'est l'auteur qui lit son livre, il imite certains personnages, lit les parties en langue étrangère, vraiment très vivant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Nadia
  • 2018-11-20

Brilliant

it's one thing to have great elements for a story it's another to be able to tell it in a way that captivates an audience for a duration of eight hours. Trevor Noah really succeeded in doing this. I highly recommend it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mikus
  • 2018-09-21

Exceptional story, exceptional reading!

Not only the story of the book is highly enjoyable, but also very valuable and provides a lot of insight in the reality of living in the South Africa and in the racist communities in general.
On top of that the author himself adds a lot by reading the book in very lively and entertaining way and with a lot of distance to himself, past events and political situation. Reading the original quotes in the local languages is unbeatable.

My only regret is due to the topics mixed chronologically and because of that in some moments it is hard to figure out at first in which period is the current action happening and therefore what was the authors' age/location and the political situation. On the other hand it is not hard to take longer breaks from the book, as its rather a set of smaller stories than a full chain of events with direct consequences.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Annelise
  • 2018-07-09

lost for words

very good book. Trevor Noah give a comprehensive explination on how apartaid worked in south africa.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Client d'Amazon
  • 2018-05-01

Incroyable !

A écouter absolument, si vous voulez rire, être surpris, émus, choqué, apprendre mais surtout rire. Le meilleur livre audio que j’ai écouté grâce à l’histoire et la performance de Mr Noah qui est très très talentueux. Il sait imiter tout type de personnages. Il est brillant. J’ai passé un très bon moment. Je le recommande sans aucune hésitation

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Moeen B.
  • 2017-04-04

Just perfect

I just loved it! Trevor Noah rocks! his accent, his imitations, his tones...I felt like I was inside a movie, or living with him. I cried once, I laughed many times and I enjoyed it thoroughly!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • vanessa pinheiro
  • 2019-11-17

Drôle, intéressant, superbement interprété

J'ai adoré le jeu d'acteur.
L'histoire est très intéressante et racontée avec beaucoup d'humour
je recommande vraiment, ça passe trop vite!

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  • Guionne Leroy
  • 2019-10-25

irresistible

funny,deep ,moving,immensely enjoyable.Trevor Noah narrating his own life is a gem of a an audiobook.

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  • Nya N.
  • 2019-08-27

j'adore

Parfait ! son histoire est complètement incroyable, un délice a écouter! quelle histoire j'adore trevor npah

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  • bengebara k.
  • 2019-06-10

Amazing

Amazing book, so overwhelming and real! Massive respect for you and your mom! Love you