Salman Rushdie Reads From His Memoir About Being Stabbed Onstage


Salman Rushdie has said that his first thought upon seeing the man who would stab him on stage in August 2022 was: “So it’s you. Here you are.”

“It felt like something coming out of the distant past and trying to drag me back in time, if you like, back into that distant past, in order to kill me,” said the Indian-born British-American author of books including The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children.

Rushdie was about to give a talk at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state on 12 August 2022 when a man rushed on stage and stabbed him about 10 times.

“I was seated at stage right,” said Rushdie, reading from his forthcoming memoir about the attack, titled Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder. “Then, in the corner of my right eye – the last thing my right eye would ever see – I saw the man in black running toward me down the right-hand side of the seating area. Black clothes, black face mask. He was coming in hard and low. A squat missile.

“I confess, I had sometimes imagined my assassin rising up in some public forum or other, and coming for me in just this way. So my first thought when I saw this murderous shape rushing towards me was, ‘So it’s you. Here you are.’”

After the attack, Rushdie remained in hospital for six weeks. He lost vision in one eye and feeling in some fingertips. “One of the surgeons who had saved my life said to me, ‘First you were really unlucky and then you were really lucky’. I said, ‘What’s the lucky part?’ and he said ‘Well, the lucky part is that the man who attacked you had no idea how to kill a man with a knife’,” Rushdie told Anderson Cooper on CBS’s 60 Minutes in his first television interview since the attack (due to be broadcast in full on Sunday at 7pm Eastern US time, midnight BST).

The attack came 33 years after Iran’s then leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death in the aftermath of the publication of The Satanic Verses, which was deemed blasphemous.

The alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. He has been held without bail since his arrest immediately after the attack.

In January, Matar’s trial was delayed because of the forthcoming memoir, which is due to be published on Tuesday. A lawyer representing Matar argued they were entitled to see the memoir and any related material before his client stood trial, as it would constitute evidence.

In June last year, Rushdie announced he was working on the memoir during a pre-recorded Zoom appearance at Hay festival. Knife, which is published by Penguin and runs to 224 pages, is the first book Rushdie has written since the attack. “This was a necessary book for me to write: a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” he said.

Rushdie’s latest novel, Victory City, was published in February 2023, though it was written before the attack. He previously published a memoir in 2012, titled Joseph Anton, about his time in hiding after the publication of The Satanic Verses.

Rushdie has written 15 novels and many works of nonfiction. He has been shortlisted for the Booker prize five times, winning the award in 1981 for Midnight’s Children. The book also won the Booker of Bookers in 1994 and the Best of the Booker in 2008, to mark the 25th and 40th anniversaries of the prize.





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