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 14, to U2’s unlikely journey to become one of the world’s most influential rock bands, to his more than 20 years of activism dedicated to the fight against AIDS and extreme poverty. Writing with candour, self-reflection, and humour, 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 40 original drawings for Surrender, and an animated video, narrated by Bono and based on some of his drawings, was released today across U2’s digital platforms. 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 10th May 1978 – his 18th birthday, exactly 44 years ago today.
All of the passion that Bono brings to his music and his life he also brings to the page, says Knopf EVP and Publisher Reagan Arthur, who is Bono’s editor at Penguin Random House US. Seven years ago another legend, 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. Surrender is honest, intimate, irreverent, and profound – a dazzling memoir of a remarkable life.
“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