Seaside Book Club –
by Deborah Rogers –
You don’t need to have any previous knowledge of Trevor Noah to get something out of his autobiography, Born a Crime. It turns out that many of our Book Club members had never encountered the comedian and host of the Daily Show before, and yet this was one of our most positively received books yet!
Born in apartheid South Africa in 1984, to a black mother and a white father, Noah’s very existence went against the laws of his country. From this unique perspective Noah relates stories from his childhood and youth, interspersed with some history of South Africa, and specifically the way black people were repressed by the political system.
South African history is a sad, dark story. Many of our readers didn’t know the extent of segregation, institutionalized abuse and bewildering laws in place to ensure the system continued. Noah did an excellent job of educating the reader of the basic, though astonishing, facts. His writing style is concise and pointed. He uses clever analogies to remind us again and again that this happened within our lifetimes, and the consequences continue to play out across the country. I think everybody experienced genuine horror at the facts laid out.
But it absolutely isn’t a dark book. Noah’s great skill is to bring a light touch to a dark subject. He does this by inserting himself, and his extremely bold mother, into the narrative. His childhood reminiscences are presented as vignettes. We meet Noah as a very young child, then see him through his school years, adolescence, and finally as a young man. As the book progresses Noah’s character grows and develops. His sense of outrage at the injustices of life for anyone not white play out against a very colourful background of an intense mother-son relationship.
Noah’s mother is presented as the hero of the story. Our readers expressed awe at her strength of character, perhaps best demonstrated by the way Trevor was more afraid of his mom at home than the jail he ended up in for “borrowing” a car! Some of his memories might not have been believed if we came across them in a work of fiction, but there is no reason to doubt the veracity of this account, told as it is with a sparkling, intelligent voice.
Since reading the book many of our group have looked Noah up, watched h
is YouTube videos and tuned into his TV show. That’s a pretty strong recommendation in itself!
Our last Book Club meeting of the year takes place on November 14, upstairs at the Shoal Centre, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. We’ll be discussing Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.
Visit www.seasidemagazine.ca/book-club for more information and to sign up!
Book Club Q & A
Q How do you choose the books?
A The book selection is a little down to luck – each month the Sidney/North Saanich Library tries to get hold of a book club set for us to use. Availability is based on demand. So far we have had a choice between several titles each month, and have voted which one to use. Generally this will mean that people can leave the meeting with a copy of next month’s read. Book Club members can suggest titles they would be interested in reading from the VIRL book club sets list:
Q How do you structure the meeting?
A Members bring questions or discussion points with them, written down. These are put in a “hat” and drawn from to keep the discussion going. It leads to diverse questions and no need for anyone to feel self-conscious. The meeting is facilitated by Seaside Magazine’s Deborah and Sidney/North Saanich Library’s Virginia.
Q How do I stay up to date with Book Club happenings?
A Sign up for our mailing list and you’ll get meeting reminders by email. And follow us on Facebook to see everything that’s happening at Seaside Magazine!