Salman Rushdie says knife attacker came at him like a ‘missile’

Author Sir Salman Rushdie has described the moment before he was stabbed at a literary festival, saying he saw a “murderous shape rushing towards” him like a “squat missile”.

The novelist was stabbed multiple times during the attack, which took place moments before he was due to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state in August 2022.

The attack left the 76-year-old with life-changing injuries, including the loss of his sight in one eye and limited feeling in his hand.

The Indian-born British author has now written about the incident in his upcoming memoir, titled Knife: Meditations After An Attempted Murder – which is due to be published later this month.

Ahead of the book’s publication, he read an excerpt to American journalist Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes on CBS, which will air on Sunday.

Reading from his book, Sir Salman said: “In the corner of my right eye, the last thing my right eye would ever see.

“I saw the man in black running towards 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’.”

In 1989, Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Sir Salman’s death following the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, which many Muslims consider blasphemous.

Image: Sir Salman Rushdie after being made a Companion of Honour by the Princess Royal in May 2023. Pic: PA

Sir Salman lived under police protection for years following the declaration of the fatwa and multimillion-pound bounty, and faced death threats and a failed assassination attempt in London in 1989.

The author said in an interview just weeks before the attack that, following years in hiding, his life had returned to being relatively normal.

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Then, on 12 August 2022, he was about to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, in New York state, when he was stabbed.

A man has been charged with attempted murder and assault – charges he has denied.

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In another teaser, uploaded to the 60 Minutes social media channel, Sir Salman talked about his survival of the attack.

“It feels like a miracle”, he said.

“And I certainly don’t feel that some hand reached down from the skies and guarded me. But I do think something happened which wasn’t supposed to happen.”

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The book, published by Penguin Random House, is due to be released on 16 April.

On 21 April, Sir Salman will discuss his book and the attack as part of a series of events for the Southbank Centre’s Spring Literature and Spoken Word Season.

Sir Salman began his writing career in the early 1970s and his 1983 novel Midnight’s Children, about the birth of India, won the Booker Prize in 1981.

Source : Sky News