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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 (4,754 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

"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's narration offers insights and intimacy, and as he gives voice to his mother, his friends, and his younger self, listeners are invited in to glimpse his world. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award (AudioFile magazine)

Highest-rated new book of 2016 by Audible customers

Winner: Audible's Best of 2016 - Celebrity Memoirs 

Trevor Noah, one of the comedy world's fastest-rising stars and host of The Daily Show, tells his wild coming-of-age story during the twilight of apartheid in South Africa and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. In this Audible Studios production, Noah provides something deeper than traditional memoirists: powerfully funny observations about how farcical political and social systems play out in our lives. 

"Nelson Mandela once said, 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.' He was so right. When you make the effort to speak someone else's language, even if it's just basic phrases here and there, you are saying to them, 'I understand that you have a culture and identity that exists beyond me. I see you as a human being.'" (Trevor Noah) 

Attuned to the power of language at a young age - as a means of acceptance and influence in a country divided, then subdivided, into groups at odds with one another - Noah's raw, personal journey becomes something extraordinary in audio: a true testament to the power of storytelling. With brutal honesty and piercing wit, he forgoes an ordinary reading and, instead, delivers something more intimate, sharing his story with the openness and candor of a close friend. His chameleon-like ability to mimic accents and dialects, to shift effortlessly between languages including English, Xhosa, and Zulu, and to embody characters throughout his childhood - his mother, his gran, his schoolmates, first crushes and infatuations - brings each memory to life in vivid detail. Hearing him directly, you're reminded of the gift inherent in telling one's story and having it heard; of connecting with another, and seeing them as a human being. 

The stories Noah tells are by turns hilarious, bizarre, tender, dark, and poignant - subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty, making comically pitiful attempts at teenage romance in a color-obsessed world, thrown into jail as the hapless fall guy for a crime he didn't commit, thrown by his mother from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters, and more. 

©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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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.

26 of 29 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

3 of 3 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!!

7 of 8 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.

13 of 16 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.

2 of 2 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!

2 of 2 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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I will never, ever visit South Africa

It's pretty much a miracle that he survived and is here. I think that's the second greatest miracle that his mom pulled off. If she gets a third, I suggest quite strongly that she should get a sainthood.

Honestly, I have no idea how *anyone* survives in that country. I feel like I know everything I might ever need to know about South Africa now. Trevor Noah describes everything so beautifully and lucidly, and he shines a ginormous spotlight into all the dark corners. And those corners are very, very dark... but it sort of creeps up on you. He writes his story like an oil painting, layer upon layer, until the full picture finally appears.

It's dark, and funny, and you get to know all the people who were in his life from the inside out. It's human. With all that that implies. And the mom in me just wants to wrap him in fluffy blankets and feed him soup. Because nobody should have had to go through what he did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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I laughed cried ,then laughed again!wonderful!

absolutely great! the ending will be the most memorable part of this story...this was not so much a story about Trevor and his upbringing, but a story about a mother's faith in an unseen God to keep and protect all that is most precious to her!...I will never see Trevor the same way again...thank you Trevor for telling me and showing your mom's heart!

1 of 1 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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  • Doug and Amy
  • 2019-05-18

Read about 3/4 and did not finish

This is an interesting story about Trevor Noah’s life. That said I just was not drawn to finish the story. I truly appreciate all he’s been through and the success he has had. Perhaps others will find it more captivating than I did at listening on my way to and from work.

29 of 34 people found this review helpful

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  • book lover
  • 2018-05-06

Not for animal lovers

I was really enjoying the book. The author was amazing until he dispassionately discussed the death and mutilation of family pets. I wish I could I un-hear the story. All the empathy I had for that culture fled with what they do to sweet little animals.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • K. A. Oseid
  • 2019-02-25

Struggled to finish

The author read this audiobook himself, and he did a fantastic job. The story was interesting, but a bit disjointed. The overuse of swear words as adjectives took away from the flow of the story.
He did however do a great job of making his mom the hero of the story, and in doing so he brought her honor. I listen to most audiobooks at least two if not three times, but once was enough for me with this one.

58 of 69 people found this review helpful

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  • Dany Avila
  • 2018-12-06

I expected more...

That is the issue with hyped books, you tend to expect more than it can actually give you.

I did enjoy the book, the stories and learning from it, but the book turned a bit repetitive/boring at the end.

38 of 45 people found this review helpful

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  • Aamen
  • 2019-04-21

Average book

The book is groups of short stories. each story is a good one on its own, but as the stories are separate and not tied to any timeline, it is confusing to listen to them (I hear the story of his life with school then another one after school then back to a story while he was child then teenager again then a child again). This confusion of timeline greatly reduces the pleasure of listening to Trevor

33 of 39 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

101 of 121 people found this review helpful

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  • Grayson L. Schwarz
  • 2018-05-15

Good story if you don't mind the "f" word.

Thought I had a winner until he got into a 10-15 minute dissertation on "shitting". Downhill from there. After 12 chapters I couldn't take the frequent "f" words any more. Author is articulate, highly intelligent and engaging otherwise. He's a rebel and one feels he takes no little amount of pride in that. Got the impression that he was attributing more of his sufferings to apartheid than was deserved even for such an inhuman practise. Sometimes people do the wrong thing just because they don't care and the fault lies with them and not with the policy ther're under.

91 of 109 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Dahlen
  • 2018-12-17

Not a 4.9 for me -- perhaps a 2.5?

I did learn a lot about South African culture through the book, and because Trevor Noah is a comedian I expected to laugh more than once... but I only laughed once. The story is well told and I always like when the author of the book narrates the book. It was not as funny as I was expecting and everyone seems to love the book... but I found it overhyped.

52 of 62 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.

105 of 126 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-04-28

Too many 4-letter words

What disappointed you about Born a Crime?

Trevor's story is interesting, but 4-letter words are used too many times.

Would you ever listen to anything by Trevor Noah again?

No, didn't finish this one

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Interesting biography

Any additional comments?

Would love to hear the story without the bad language

95 of 114 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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  • 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

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  • Nicolas
  • 2019-06-06

Amazing story from a great performer

Enjoyed every part of it. The reading by Trevor himself makes it intense and real. Highly recommended

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  • CJ
  • 2019-05-26

amazing

amazing and saddest life story ever I enjoyed every bit of it thank you Trevor for sharing such an amazing story even if it was sad at the end🥺you're my model