Author of the week
Trevor Noah has an unusually good reason for being a lifelong reader, said Pamela Paul in The New York Times. In his new memoir, Born a Crime, the rookie host of Comedy Central’s Daily Show describes growing up in South Africa at a time when anti-miscegenation laws compelled his black Xhosa mother and white Swiss father to keep him out of sight of authorities. “I spent a lot of time indoors so that my parents could avoid going to jail,” he says. “Books were my escape.” He lost himself early on in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and other Roald Dahl classics. He also loved The Chronicles of Narnia, relishing the chance to step into a world with different rules. “In Narnia, you’re weird, but everybody’s weird,” he says.
Those early lessons serve him well as an author, said Ray Rahman in Entertainment Weekly. Born a Crime proves him a gifted storyteller, able to mix humor and poignancy and to tell a personal story against the backdrop of South African history. The work of writing it, he says, was immensely rewarding, because it helped him put the pressures of his TV career in perspective. “Going back sometimes helps me understand why I am here,” Noah told TheAtlantic.com. “Even realizing how hard I’ve worked to be here, which sometimes I forget.” The work also let him reconnect with the boy who turned to books because he couldn’t just play outside. “I became used to being an outsider, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. It means you always maintain a mindset that keeps you within your own space.”