Monday 30 January 2017

Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

Born A Crime is Trevor Noah's "so-far" story. With a white father and a black mother, and sexual relations between races verboten - there was actually a law against it in South Africa since 1927 - he was literally "born a crime".  Only just, let it be said - Noah was born in 1984 and the law was repealed in 1985. As is usual, the sentiment towards that law had changed a while before, so that by the time the repeal actually happened, it had become an embarrassment, and wouldn't have been enforced.

Trevor Noah knows how to spin a yarn. He became famous in SA as a stand-up comedian, and his great strength was being relatable to most. He achieved this without being overly crass - a bit of bad language, but generally clean stuff. The book takes a look, in stand-up style, at his colourful past.

The tales are well told. His mother is an obvious heroine, and the villains are some relatives, his father and SA apartheid. Trevor can speak an impressive number of languages, which makes the audible version of this book (read by Trevor, so the accents are right) a real treat. Also unexpected was the references to faith and religion - told with a smack of scepticism, but a great deal of respect and love. Another bonus feature was the realisation of how knowing all those languages connected Trevor to so many more people. I found that quite inspirational.

As with all good storytellers, the facts are bent quite a lot to make the story better. Those of us who love and are proud of Trevor's success will relax and enjoy the ride, laugh out loud at the jokes. I did spare a thought for the true believers - this is not completely non-fiction  - and they may be justifiably upset.

ISBN: 9780399588174

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