Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 5,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."

trevor-noah-book-born-a-crime-stories-from-a-south-african-childhood

Trevor Noah is known as a comedian. Those of us living in the US know him as the host of the popular comedy show The Daily Show. But he has since become a literary figure—ever since his memoirs, titled Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, hit the stands earlier this month.

Noah was recently featured on The New York Times “By the Book,” a high-profile interview column that allows authors explore their relationship to reading, writing, and books in general. Noah’s responses give us a rare insight into his life as a reader.

In the course of the interview, he revealed that some of this favorite South African writers included Sol Plaatje, J. M. Coetzee, and Zakes Mda—all wonderful choices that proves Noah is a solid literary man. Among the literary figures that made it to his list of favorite South African books, the mention of Plaatje is particularly noteworthy. Plaatje is a novelist, diarist and essay writer who played a major role in the early decades of modern African literature. He was born in the late 19th century and falls within that group of unsung African literary icons who, for some strange reason, do not get half the amount of recognition that they deserve. So kudos to Noah for giving Plaatje a shout out.

Here are some Noah’s response that we thought you’d find interesting:

On the Best Books He’s Read about South Africa

I don’t know if I could pick the best; the territory is too rich. J. M. Coetzee and Zakes Mda are probably the best-known South African novelists in the West, and deservedly so. Nelson Mandela was as great a writer as he was an activist and leader. Sol Plaatje was a founder and first general secretary of the organization that became the A.N.C.; his writings were largely ignored during his lifetime, but they’ve survived to become some of the most compelling and celebrated accounts of the early days of apartheid. Rian Malan’s “My Traitor’s Heart” is a brutal excavation of a white South African’s conscience at apartheid’s end. Among contemporary South African writers, Khaya Dlanga is a personal favorite. His memoir, “To Quote Myself,” is as good an account as you’ll find about life in the country today.

On His Favorite Genre

I’m a sucker for fantasy. Write anything in a magical world with creatures and spells and you have me hooked. I also cannot resist autobiographies; it’s like learning about a person from inside their own mind. As for genres to avoid, I don’t avoid much. I’ll try anything once.

On His Childhood Reading

I was a voracious reader as a kid. Being the mixed child of a black Xhosa mom and a white Swiss dad, my existence was illegal in South Africa at the time. When I was little I spent a lot of time indoors so my parents could avoid going to jail, which would not have been fun for any of us. Books were my escape. I loved getting lost in fantasy worlds. I’d read anything by Roald Dahl: “James and the Giant Peach,” “The BFG,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I also loved “The Chronicles of Narnia,” but I only got to read them after convincing my very Christian mother that Aslan was a Christ figure and not a false idol.

Read the full interview HERE.

Buy the book here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

Scholarship and Mentorship Opportunity with Ellah P. Wakatama OBE (Open to Black British Writers)

Scholarship and Mentorship Opportunity with Ellah P. Wakatama (1)

The Literary Consultancy (TLC) has launched a new scholarship aimed at providing “writers on low-income and/or from communities currently under-represented […]

Watch Joseph Adesunloye’s Documentary Film on The AKO Caine Prize

Caine Prize documentary film (2)

A few weeks ago, the AKO Caine Prize organizers announced that the award dinner held at the British Library will […]

Two African Writers Featured in Beyoncé’s Black Is King Visual Album

Yrsa Daley-Ward and Warsan Shire's Poetry Featured in Beyoncé's Black Is King Visual Album (1)

Beyoncé’s new visual album Black Is King is making waves, but the exciting part is that there are two African […]

Ethiopian Author Mihret Sibhat’s Signs Book Deal for Debut Novel The History of a Difficult Child

Ethiopian Author Mihret Sibhat's Signs Book Deal for Debut Novel The History of a Difficult Child

Ethiopian author Mihret Sibhat’s debut novel The History of a Difficult Child, about “a girl child contending with familial & […]

Idza Luhumyo Wins Inaugural Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award

Luhumyo2

Idza Luhumyo was recently announced as the winner of the inaugural Margaret Busby New Daughters of Africa Award. The award […]

Video | Zimbabwean Novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga Released After Her Arrest on July 31

tsitsi dangaremgba released after arrest

Days after Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga was longlisted for the Booker Prize, she was arrested while protesting. The arrest took […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.