About the Author

Trevor Noah

Trevor Noah is the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show. Noah rose improbably to stardom with The Racist, his one-man show at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He made his US television debut that year on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and has also appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, becoming the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on either late-night program.

About the Book

Born a Crime – Stories from a South African Childhood

Noah was born a crime, the son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Born a Crime tells 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. These interwoven stories are equally the story of Trevor’s fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother–a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life.

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 wit and honesty. His stories weave together and depict a lovable delinquent 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.

Why this book?

Our selection process for the Common Reading Experience book includes the input of current Engineering students who overwhelmingly rated Born a Crime very highly. Regardless of Trevor Noah’s political perspectives, his personal story provides an opportunity for an interesting discussion as we think about ourselves as engineers. While this book does not contain technical engineering, there are themes of perseverance, growth mindset, and the need to understand the social dimensions and historical contexts of a situation that directly tie into engineering.

Each student will be provided with a copy of Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. Books will be shipped during the month of June to students’ permanent addresses. International students will receive an e-book unless a hard copy was requested. Faculty and staff can also request a copy of the book using this form.