Salman Rushdie Recounts Fatal Stabbing Incident In New Book ‘Knife’

Author Salman Rushdie has given his first interview about his near-fatal stabbing in New York in 2022. While delivering a presentation at a conference in Chautauqua, a man in black clothing and a black mask entered the room and launched at him with a knife. Rushdie told Anderson Cooper that his immediate thought was, “So it’s you, here you are.”

Mr. Rushdie had lived under round-the-clock protection for over a decade after Iranian clerics issued a fatwa – a religious instruction – calling for his death. The fatwa came when Rushdie published a book, The Satanic Verses, that was considered offensive to many Muslims due to a depiction of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.

The attacker stabbed the author 15 times, injuring his neck, face, and chest and destroying the sight in his right eye. Paramedics rushed him by helicopter to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he remained for several weeks. He has now published a book, Knife, to describe the event and its aftermath in detail.

Raised by non-practicing Muslim parents, Rushdie is an outspoken atheist and advocate for free speech. During the interview with Cooper, he lamented that free expression is under attack. He said young people, in particular, believe that speech restrictions are “often a good idea.”

Recounting nightmares he frequently endures, Mr. Rushdie said he was unable to get away from his attacker and could not fight him off. The 76-year-old described lying on the floor surrounded by a “spectacular quantity of blood.” He also revealed he had dreamt about being stabbed immediately before the assault.

Knife will be the author’s 22nd book and one he says he did not want to write. He added, however, that he hoped it would help him come to terms with the attack.

An Indian-born British citizen, Rushdie spoke of his shock at the reaction to The Satanic Verses. He had assumed it would upset more conservative Muslims but did not expect global protests that resulted in a dozen deaths.