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First College Year Common Reading 2017: About

About Trevor Noah and "Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood"

From the publisher: "Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love."

Trevor Noah is the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show. He first joined the show as a contributor in 2014 and succeeded Jon Stewart as host in 2015.

This page by the Brooklyn College Library is meant to act as a supplement to the 2017 First College Year Common Reading events and activities, which include reading and writing about the book in your English 1010 class, students writing their own memoirs for possible publication in the anthology Telling Our Stories, Sharing Our Lives, and reading groups and panel discussions by Brooklyn College faculty. Click here to visit the official Brooklyn College First College Year Common Reading site.

If you are a first-year student and you have not yet received your copy of Born a Crime, stop by 3208 Boylan Hall.

The First College Year Common Reading experience is meant to build community and foster dialogue.  Check out these primary and secondary sources to learn more about the author, and explore just a few of its many important themes.

Happy reading!