What book to read? Which are the best authors? What do other people think of the book I like? What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? Is there more in life? These are all valid questions. Hooligan Hamlet is trying to answer at least some of these with our new column “Hooligan Book Club” mainly curated by digital marketing specialist / sportsgirl / fashion icon / socialmedia influencer Liisa Ennuste. This is a book CLUB, so you are very much welcome to join by writing us what do you think and feel about these books, have you read, are you planning to read etc.
This Hooligan Book Club book review is about a book called “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah.
Hooligan Book Club: Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
by Liisa Ennuste
Trevor Noah – when I first heard this name announced as the successor to Jon Stewart at the Daily Show, I was bummed out like the rest of the world. Not because I knew anything about him, but because I felt than Jon OWNED the show and anyone else would ruin it. It was an end of an era and I was bitter.
Then, 3 shows deep, I was hooked by Trevor’s style and fresh sense of humour. (I still occasionally miss the depth of Jon Stewart’s character, his eclectic gesturing and vivid impersonations…) But Trevor totally shaped the show after a bit of time – he was a natural. He was like…shape up or ship out!
My point is that taking over a long-running show with such a strong fan base is a solid challenge. Had I only known what a piece of cookie it could have been for Trevor, who has faced life-and-death type of challenges throughout his childhood. So, the first effect this book had on me, was that it raised my respect levels for Trevor from wherever they were before, to the absolute maximum in this universe.
Trevor grew up in South Africa during the last days of apartheid. He was born to a black mother and a white Swiss father (which was considered a serious crime at the time – also that’s where the title for the book originates from). His childhood was surrounded by a consecutive row of racism, violence, extreme poverty and fear. But it wasn’t a sad childhood – it was just life at the time and Trevor was a happy mischievous child, who made the most of had he had. When I read about some of the most gruesome memories (that he describes with a light touch of humour) – I couldn’t help but wonder whether me or any of my friends would be “normal people” after a childhood like this, or lining up behind the psychiatrist’s office.
But Trevor was strong and he got it from his mama. His mother grew up in worse conditions than Trevor – as a child her family rejected her & she ended up living in a tent with 14 other children, drinking clay water (literally clay + water from the river) when they were short of food. She did everything against the system — moved to the part of the city where she wasn’t allowed, had a child with a white man, got a job that was out of reach for women of her colour etc. She always questioned the authority and passed this mind-set on to Trevor, making sure that he won’t grow up as a victim of the apartheid.
The book is a balanced mix of wry humour and socio-political discussion. It also gave me a much better insight into apartheid and the deep-rooted racism in South Africa. On the one hand, this book is an easy-read, it’s fun and compelling, but on the other hand, the topics covered are very sad and brutal.
I am actually really rooting for a sequel, as the book covered mostly Trevor’s earlier years, but left off when he actually started doing well. I would love to know more about his first steps in the stand-up scene, and his road to The Daily Show.
PS. Needless to say that now I’ve become one of those people, who’s automatic “Recommend-Trevor’s-book” mode gets activated when I catch his name mid-discussion.