Salman Rushdie on the attack that nearly killed him and his new book “Knife”

Prolific creator Salman Rushdie does not like to consider the person who nearly stabbed him to dying at a literary competition in Chautauqua, New York in August 2022.

In lower than half a minute, Rushdie was stabbed and slashed within the face, neck, chest, stomach, thigh and hand. He misplaced a watch within the assault and remains to be adjusting to the change. Rushdie does not use his attacker’s title and it does not seem in his latest ebook, “Knife,” hitting bookshelves Tuesday.

“He and I had 27 seconds collectively, ? That is it,” Rushdie, now 76, advised 60 Minutes correspondent Anderson Cooper. “I need not give him any extra of my time.”

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

60 Minutes

“Knife,” Rushdie’s twenty second ebook, is one he initially didn’t wish to write. The ebook, nevertheless, felt unavoidable, and it grew to become a chance for Rushdie to return to phrases with the assault. 

“I must deal with, , to make use of the cliché, the elephant within the room,” Rushdie stated. “And the second I believed that, kinda one thing modified in my head. And it then grew to become a ebook I actually very a lot wished to write down.”

Rushdie’s earlier brushes with dying

For years, no place was protected for Salman Rushdie, whose sprawling 600-page novel “The Satanic Verses” offended some Muslims for its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. Iran’s then-Supreme Chief, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa—a spiritual decree— calling for Rushdie’s dying in 1989. There have been worldwide protests from London to Lahore. “The Satanic Verses” was burned and 12 individuals died in violent clashes with police. The ebook’s Japanese translator was murdered, and others related to the tome had been attacked.

Rushdie had no concept then that his ebook would result in such a violent backlash. 

“I believed most likely some conservative spiritual individuals would not prefer it. However they did not like something I wrote anyway,” he stated. “So I believed, ‘Nicely, they do not should learn it.'”

Rushdie, who was born in India, was dwelling in London when he went into hiding to evade the assassins despatched to kill him. The British authorities offered him with 24-hour police safety for 10 years. Over that interval, Rushdie stated there have been as many as half a dozen critical assassination makes an attempt from state-sponsored terrorism professionals.

The Iranian state referred to as off its assassins in 1998 after diplomatic negotiations, however the bounty on his head remained.

What occurred throughout the assault

Rushdie moved to New York within the early 2000s and for the following 20 years lived brazenly. He continued writing and publishing books and have become a celebrated advocate for freedom of expression. 

In 2022, Rushdie was invited to talk at a literary competition in Chautauqua, New York a couple of topic he is aware of all too properly: the significance of defending writers whose lives are underneath menace. 

Two days earlier than the occasion, Rushdie had a dream by which he was being attacked, what he calls “a premonition.”

“And it was simply anyone with a spear stabbing downwards, and I used to be rolling round on the ground making an attempt to get away from him,” Rushdie stated. “And I awakened and was fairly shaken by it.”

Anderson Cooper and Salman Rushdie
Anderson Cooper and Salman Rushdie

60 Minutes

Rushdie nearly pulled out of going to Chautauqua, however disregarded his issues as he’d offered at many occasions in his years dwelling in America. Rushdie hadn’t had safety element in a very long time, however the venues he spoke at normally had venue safety. On this case, he stated, there wasn’t any.

Rushdie was seated at stage proper earlier than the assault, and writes about what occurred subsequent in his ebook “Knife.”

“Then, within the nook of my proper eye — the very last thing my proper eye would ever see — I noticed the person in black working in the direction of me down the right-hand facet of the seating space,” Rushdie writes. 

He describes his attacker as a “squat missile” carrying black garments and a black masks.

“I confess, I had typically imagined my murderer rising up in some public discussion board or different, and coming for me in simply this fashion.” Rushdie writes. “So my first thought once I noticed this murderous form speeding in the direction of me was, ‘So it is you. Right here you’re.'”

Rushdie did not see the knife and thought, at first, that he’d simply been punched. Then he noticed the blood. 

“I believe he was simply wildly, , flailing round,” Rushdie stated about his attacker. 

Rushdie does not bear in mind being stabbed within the eye. 

“I bear in mind falling. Then I bear in mind not understanding what had occurred to my eye,” Rushdie stated. 

The assault lasted 27 seconds.

“That is fairly a very long time,” Rushdie stated. “That is the extraordinary half-minute of intimacy, , by which life meets dying.”

Rushdie’s attacker was a 24-year-old Muslim man from New Jersey who lived in his mom’s basement. He is believed to be a lone wolf. He has pleaded not responsible to tried homicide and is awaiting trial.

In an interview, he advised the “New York Put up” he’d solely learn a few pages of “The Satanic Verses” and seen some clips of Rushdie on YouTube. He stated he “did not like him very a lot” as a result of Rushdie had “attacked Islam.” 

His motive stays one thing of a thriller to Rushdie, who feels that if he’d written a personality who knew so little about his proposed sufferer, his publishers would inform him the character was “under-motivated.”

Aftermath of the assault on Rushdie

Viewers members pulled the attacker off Rushdie whereas others desperately tried to stem the stream of his blood.

“I bear in mind considering that I used to be most likely dying. And it was fascinating as a result of it was fairly matter of reality…It wasn’t, it wasn’t like I used to be petrified of it or no matter,” Rushdie stated.

Rushdie’s near-death expertise hasn’t left him with any revelations about what comes after dying, “besides that there is no revelation available.”

Salman Rushdie and Eliza Griffiths speak with Anderson Cooper
Salman Rushdie and Eliza Griffiths converse with Anderson Cooper

60 Minutes

Paramedics flew Rushdie to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, 40 miles away, the place a crew of docs battled for eight hours to save lots of his life. When he lastly got here out of surgical procedure, his spouse Eliza Griffiths, a poet and novelist, was ready.

“He was a unique coloration. He was chilly,” she stated. “His face was stapled. Simply staples holding his face collectively.”

Rushdie was on a ventilator, unable to talk. After 18 days within the hospital and three weeks in rehab, Rushdie was discharged. One of many surgeons advised Rushdie he was each actually unfortunate and actually fortunate. 

“I stated, ‘What is the fortunate half?’ And he stated, ‘Nicely, the fortunate half is that the person who attacked you had no concept how you can kill a person with a knife,” Rushdie stated.

Have brushes with dying modified Rushdie?

After “The Satanic Verses” was printed, Rushdie felt the one factor individuals knew about him was the dying menace in opposition to him and he does not need the 2022 assault to be yet one more defining incident.

For Rushdie, the worst a part of the assault two years in the past past the bodily wounds, was the sensation of being dragged into the previous.  

“That sense of time warp, , of being dragged right into a narrative that I believed had concluded,” he stated, “after which it turned out had not.”

Whereas Rushdie was attacked with a bodily knife, he fought again with one which’s extra metaphorical: his writing. Rushdie thought he might use his ebook to take cost of what occurred to him. 

“I imply, language is a approach of breaking open the world,” Rushdie stated. “I haven’t got some other weapons.”

He says he feels the presence of dying greater than he did earlier than.

“I believe that shadow is simply there,” Rushdie stated. “And a few days it is darkish and a few days it isn’t.”

Nearly 25 years in the past, Rushdie, addressing the fatwa, stated that he wished to search out an “and to this story. It’s the one story I need to discover an finish to.” He thought he had discovered that ending till he was attacked in 2022.

“I am hoping that is only a final twitch of that story,” he stated. “I do not know. I am going to let .”