Books

Trevor Noah a prize-winning author? Maybe

Trevor Noah talks about ‘Born a Crime’ during the Miami Book Fair in 2016.
Trevor Noah talks about ‘Born a Crime’ during the Miami Book Fair in 2016. For the Miami Herald

By now, “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah is used to stepping into predecessor Jon Stewart’s shoes.

Now he’s doing it again. The Comedy Central host is among three finalists for the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

Noah, who kicked off last year’s Miami Book Fair, is nominated for his memoir “Born a Crime,” about growing up under the shadow of apartheid in South Africa. The choice is interesting: Though it has plenty of funny moments, the book delves into the complexities of race, culture and poverty (Noah’s father is white, and his mother is black).

Noah talked with the Miami Herald last fall about race and how Americans weren’t having the right conversations about it.

“I think if you lived through it, being from South Africa, it prepares you for this conversation,” he told the Herald. “We’ve had them and continue to have them in an open manner, a more blunt manner than in America. American conversations don’t seem to be happening in a progressive way. The conversation isn’t people addressing the issues but asking first whether or not there is an issue, which is a different conversation than I’m used to. In South Africa, we all acknowledge there was an issue, and here people are going, ‘Is there an issue?’ ”

stewart
Comedian Jon Stewart won the Thurber Prize with two co-authors in 2015. Greg Allen Greg Allen/Invision/AP

Stewart won the award in 2005 with co-authors David Javerbaum and Ben Karlin for “America: The Book: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction.” Other winners include David Sedaris and Calvin Trillin.

The other nominees for this year’s award, which comes with $5,000, are playwright-screenwriter Ken Pisani’s novel “Amp’d” and Aaron Thier’s novel “Mr. Eternity.” Thier, who read from the climate change comedy “Mr. Eternity” at Miami Book Fair, lived in Miami from 2014-2016 and on and off before that for several years. Florida figures prominently in the novel.

Once again, no women make the cut. The only woman to have won the award since it was created in 1997 was Julie Schumacher, who won for her epistolary novel “Dear Committee Members” in 2015. Schumacher talked to the Herald about the academic satire before her appearance at the Broward County Library Foundation’s Literary Feast in 2015.

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