Blair’s English department and all-school read committee have selected Trevor Noah’s 2016 memoir Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood for the 2020-2021 all-school read. During the summer months, students and teachers will delve into the book, a #1 New York Times bestseller, in which Mr. Noah recounts his journey from a harrowing childhood in apartheid South Africa to a career as a political commentator and host of television’s “The Daily Show.”
“We anticipate that reading and discussing Born a Crime together will be a fascinating, valuable experience for the Blair community, one that will offer us both insight and hope in these disconcerting times,” said English department chair Jim Moore. “Students and faculty members who are already fans of Mr. Noah’s television work will recognize in Born a Crime his ability to clarify complex social issues through his unique combination of unvarnished observations and a wry sense of humor.”
Mr. Moore noted that despite Mr. Noah’s celebrated accomplishments as a political commentator, television host and comedian, Born a Crime is his first published work. Thus, the selection of the book for the 2020-2021 all-school read is in keeping with Blair’s focus on debut authors as a way to reduce the distance between students and writers, one of the main goals of the all-school read program since its 2017 inception.
A brief synopsis of the book by publisher Penguin Random House describes how Mr. Noah’s life story 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 has been widely praised, and it was named one of the best books of the year by Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Esquire, Newsday and Booklist. Learn more about the book and its author here.