Salman Rushdie reflects on attack in 'Knife'

17 Apr



In 'Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,' Salman Rushdie explores the stabbing that nearly killed him in 2022.


After Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's supreme leader at the time, issued a fatwa condemning Salman Rushdie to death for alleged blasphemy in his novel "The Satanic Verses" in 1989, the Indian-British author went underground. But he never remained silent. Living in the US, Rushdie felt safe enough to participate in public events. But on August 12, 2022, he and the world realized that hatred of writer had not abate. At a literary event in the US state of New York, a then 24-year-old man attacked Rushdiewith a knife, seriously injuring the author.

The 76-year-old writer and winner of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is still struggling with the consequences of the attack today: He is blind in one eye and can no longer move one hand. Nevertheless, Rushdie said in an interview with German weekly, Die Zeit that he had been extremely lucky: "If the attacker had hit me in other parts of my body, my story would be over."

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Rushdie: 'My answer to violence is art'

The book "Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder" is now being published in more than 15 countries. The essays are Rushdie's way of "coming to grips with what happened to him last year when he was stabbed, thus responding to violence with art," as described by publisher Penguin Random House.

Rushdie had already told US magazine The New Yorker in February 2023 that he was planning to write a book about the attack. After attempting to write the story as a novel, he decided instead on a memoir. "This is not novelistic. I mean, somebody sticks a knife in you, that's pretty personal. Pretty first person," he said.


To date, the fatwa has not been withdrawn

The fatwa against the writer dates back to February 1989. Since then, Rushdie has been in constant danger of being attacked by Islamist extremists. But the renowned novelist and advocate of freedom of speech never wanted to give in to fear. In August 2022, the attacker easily gained access to the author at the reading because security precautions were almost non-existent.

The man was arrested after stabbing Rushdie multiple times. The suspect is pleading not guilty to the charge of attempted murder. The trial against him should have started in January 2024, but the defense had the trial postponed, They said their client had the right to see the book manuscript as potential evidence. A new date for the start of the trial has not yet been announced. 

After his last novel "Victory City" was published in April 2023, "Knife" is now Salman Rushdie's 16th book. It is published on April 16, 2024.


Author Silke Wünsch

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Salman Rushdie receives prestigious German Peace Prize


The award jury said Rushdie was chosen for "his indomitable spirit, for his affirmation of life and for enriching our world with his love of storytelling."

British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie was on Sunday presented with the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in Frankfurt's historic St Paul's Church. The German Peace Prize comes with a €25,000 ($27,300) payment and is one of the most prestigious awards in Germany. It was first awarded in 1950. Praising Rushdie in a speech, his friend and fellow writer Daniel Kehlmann described the author as "possibly the most important defender of freedom of art and speech of our time" Rushdie, who survived a stabbing attack last year, also pledged to continue defending the freedom of speech.


'Indomitable spirit'

Previously, the jury said that the celebrated writer deserved the award for "his indomitable spirit, for his affirmation of life and for enriching our world with his love of storytelling." "In his novels and non-fiction, he melds narrative foresight with unfailing literary innovation, humour and wisdom," the jury said in a post on the prize's website. Rushdie was announced as the winner of the prize in June but the award ceremony took place at the closing of the Frankfurt Book Fair on Sunday. "A remarkable list of people have it [German Peace Prize]. So I'm just very gratified to have my name added to that list,” he said during an interview with DW earlier this week. By winning the award, Rushdie joins the list with Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, Susan Sontag, Amos Oz, Vaclav Havel among others.


Salman Rushdie's accolades and controversies

The globally acclaimed author shot to fame after his 1981 masterpiece 'Midnight's Children' for which he also received the Booker Prize. However, his 1989 novel 'The Satanic Verses,' saw the late Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini impose a fatwa on Rushdie for blasphemy. The author has been facing regular death threats ever since. In 2022, he was stabbed multiple times at a public reading in the US, leaving him blind in one eye since then.

Rushdie has written more than 14 novels and his latest novel 'Victory City' which was published this year, is about the stabbing attack. The novel deals with political intrigue and religious bigotry through the tale of the rise and fall of a feminist utopia and ends with the sentence: "Words are the winner."


mfi/dj (dpa, AFP)

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