Salman Rushdie announces memoir, Knife, about stabbing that left him blind in one eye

Author was giving a public lecture at New York’s Chautauqua Institute last year when a man rushed the stage and stabbed him repeatedly

Tom Murray
Wednesday 11 October 2023 17:09 BST
Moment Salman Rushdie's attacker apprehended on stage

Salman Rushdie is releasing a new memoir, titled Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, about being stabbed in August last year.

The 76-year-old author was about to give a public lecture at New York’s Chautauqua Institute when a 24-year-old man named Hadi Matar, who has been charged with attempted murder, rushed the stage and stabbed him repeatedly.

As a result of the attack, Rushdie suffered four wounds to the stomach, three wounds to the right side of his neck and additional wounds to his right eye, chest and his right thigh. Matar has pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

Attacks against Rushdie have been feared since the late 1980s and the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, which Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned as blasphemous for passages referring to the Prophet Muhammad.

Khomeini had issued a decree calling for Rushdie’s death after the publication of his book, forcing the author into hiding.

“This was a necessary book for me to write: a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” Rushdie said in a statement released on Wednesday (11 October) by Penguin Random House.

“Speaking out for the first time, and in unforgettable detail, about the traumatic events of 12 August 2022, Knife is a powerful, deeply personal and ultimately uplifting meditation on life, loss, love, the power of art, finding the strength to keep going – and to stand up again,” the book’s official description reads.

Books Salman Rushdie
Books Salman Rushdie (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The 256-page book will be published in the US by Random House, the Penguin Random House imprint that earlier this year released his novel Victory City, completed before the attack.

His other works include the Booker Prize-winning Midnight's Children, Shame and The Moor's Last Sigh. Rushdie is also a prominent advocate for free expression and a former president of PEN America.

Knife is a searing book, and a reminder of the power of words to make sense of the unthinkable," Penguin Random House CEO Nihar Malaviya said in a statement. “We are honoured to publish it, and amazed at Salman’s determination to tell his story, and to return to the work he loves.”

Rushdie, 76, did speak with The New Yorker about his ordeal, telling interviewer David Remnick for a February issue that he had worked hard to avoid “recrimination and bitterness” and was determined to “look forward and not backwards”.

He had also said that he was struggling to write fiction, as he did in the years immediately following the fatwa, and that he might instead write a memoir. Rushdie wrote at length, and in the third person, about the fatwa in his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton.

“This doesn’t feel third-person-ish to me,” Rushdie said of the 2022 attack in the magazine interview. “I think when somebody sticks a knife into you, that’s a first-person story. That’s an ‘I’ story.”

Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder will be published on 16 April 2024.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in