Bhallin’ with Books: ‘Born A Crime’ and a few final words

With the little taste of break that Thanksgiving gave us, I was able to finish reading Trevor Noah’s “Born A Crime(2016). “Born A Crime” is another comedian’s autobiographical novel (perhaps I’m on a comedian kick thanks to Jenny Slate) full of stories from Noah’s childhood in South Africa.

Noah is biracial and was born during apartheid in South Africa when racial segregation was still in full effect. From the first page, he explores this in-between space. He is not seen as African by Africans, and not white by whites. Noah is a hilarious comedian in my opinion, yet “Born A Crime” is told in a slightly less humorous and polished voice than you see on TV.

Noah is comfortable with his voice, skipping back and forth from humor to raw, personal reflections within sentences. As he travels throughout his life in South Africa, you watch him codeswitch and change his behavior in order to fit into the spaces he found himself in. You watch as he grows into a man whose circumstances and persona could blend perfectly into a comedian with a memorable voice.

Readers get to see him grow a pirated CD business and see him change as the shape of his family changes. You are brought into periods of poverty in which a mother’s craftiness keeps them alive. Noah is vulnerable about the difficulties of his life as well as  the harrowing reality of the post-apartheid era in South Africa, giving you a welcoming hand into the stories of his past that mirror so many difficult struggles of those in similar situations.

More than any other focus though is Noah’s love and admiration for his mother. She is a remarkable woman who I could not begin to be able to put together my own words to describe. Noah, however, is able to give you a stunning picture of her ferocity and strength. I will let him tell you about her instead of trying to myself.

Thanksgiving break also allowed space from this stressful semester and gave me a little bit of time to think about my column and what I wanted my last one to be. I’ve really enjoyed pushing myself to read for pleasure during this semester. It is one of the best ways to relieve stress and feed my mind; it is a healthy outlet during the heat of the semester.

This being said, the weekly due date sometimes inhibited my ability to take my time with a book. I couldn’t ingest it fully and, therefore, sometimes wished for more time before writing about it. So, in reflection, I am so blessed that the Daily has given me the opportunity to create this habit and realize how much I love writing about books  but perhaps I will not give myself such a time crunch in the future.

Nevertheless, I hold strongly to my original stance from my first column: I think everyone should take a chance with reading for pleasure during the school year as well. Take a chance and pick up a book you put aside in September. It will always do better in your hands than on the shelf.


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