Born a Crime
Stories from a South African Childhood
Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood reminded me of another memoir that, on the surface, seems miles distant geographically, culturally, and just about every other way: Tara Westover’s Education. The former is about a biracial young man raised black in pre- and post-Apartheid South Africa; the latter is about a young woman raised painfully, relentlessly white in Utah. Dig beneath the surface, however, and you’ll see what they have in common: children trying to make their way in dangerous and impossibly repressive environments, and somehow emerging on the other end with body and soul intact—told to us using tremendous writing gifts.
In Westover’s case, I’m still trying to figure out how she negotiated her environment and escaped. For Noah, the reason for his escape is clear: it was because of his mother, a wise and remarkable woman who made him (and presumably his brothers who came along after) her life’s work. Somewhere during the telling of Noah’s stories, I realized that she was a great human being and that I loved this remarkable book.
If you can manage it, listen to the gripping, hilarious audiobook version, read by Noah.