Bono Writes Memoir, ‘Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story’

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Bono—the lead singer of Irish rock band U2—has written a memoir, Surrender, to be published on November 1, 2022, by Alfred A. Knopf.

From the publisher’s announcement: As one of the music world’s most iconic artists, Bono’s career has been written about extensively. But in Surrender, it’s Bono who picks up the pen, writing for the first time about his remarkable life and those he has shared it with. In his unique voice, Bono takes us from his early days growing up in Dublin, including the sudden loss of his mother when he was fourteen, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands, to his more than twenty years of activism dedicated to the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Writing with candor, self-reflection, and humor, Bono opens the aperture on his life—and the family, friends, and faith that have sustained, challenged, and shaped him.

Surrender’s subtitle, “40 Songs, One Story,” is a nod to the book’s forty chapters, each named after a U2 song. Bono has also created forty original drawings for the book, and an animated video, narrated by Bono and based on some of his drawings, has been released. The video illustrates an extract from Surrender’s “Out of Control” chapter, in which Bono tells the story of writing U2’s first single on May 10, 1978 – his eighteenth birthday, 44 years ago. Watch it below.

In the announcement, Knopf publisher Reagan Arthur said, “Seven years ago, the late Knopf editor Sonny Mehta, acquired the book, because he knew Bono fits into the tradition of literary Irish storytellers, and we were lucky to have Sonny’s notes on an early draft of the manuscript. We’re luckier still that Bono not only has a dramatic personal history to tell, but he’s also a truly gifted writer.”

Says Bono, “When I started to write this book, I was hoping to draw in detail what I’d previously only sketched in songs. The people, places, and possibilities in my life. Surrender is a word freighted with meaning for me. Growing up in Ireland in the seventies with my fists up (musically speaking), it was not a natural concept. A word I only circled until I gathered my thoughts for the book. I am still grappling with this most humbling of commands. In the band, in my marriage, in my faith, in my life as an activist. Surrender is the story of one pilgrim’s lack of progress . . . With a fair amount of fun along the way.”

Bono was born Paul David Hewson in Dublin. He met The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., and Adam Clayton at school, and in 1978 U2 was formed. The band released their first album, Boy, on Island Records in 1980 and to date have released fourteen studio albums that have sold over 150 million copies worldwide. The band’s record-breaking 360° Tour (2009–2011) remains the highest-grossing concert band tour of all time. U2 have won numerous awards, including twenty-two Grammys, more than any other duo or group, as well as the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award. In 2005, U2 was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Related: When Bono had a complete loss of voice

Alongside his role in U2, Bono is a groundbreaking activist. He cofounded sister organizations ONE and (RED). ONE is a movement of millions of people dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease. With ONE, Bono has lobbied heads of state and legislatures all around the world, helping to ensure the passage of programs that have helped to save tens of millions of lives over the past twenty years. (RED)—which partners with companies to raise public awareness about, and corporate contributions for, the AIDS crisis—has to date generated more than $700 million for the Global Fund to treat and prevent AIDS in Africa.

Bono has received a number of awards for his music and activism, including the Freedom of the City of Dublin (with U2), Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal of Honor, the Légion d’honneur from the French government, an honorary British knighthood, the Fulbright Prize for International Understanding, and TIME magazine’s Person of the Year (along with Bill and Melinda Gates). He lives in Dublin with his wife, Ali Hewson.

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