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Salman Rushdie reflects on nightmares and recovery after ‘colossal’ stabbing attack

‘I sit down to write, and nothing happens. I write, but it’s a combination of blankness and junk,’ author said

Nicole Vassell
Monday 06 February 2023 12:41 GMT
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Moment Salman Rushdie's attacker apprehended on stage

Salman Rushdie has revealed that he’s been suffering from nightmares following his “colossal attack” last year.

The author was stabbed on stage several times in August 2022 as he was about to give a public lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in New York.

As a result of the attack, he 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.

In a new interview, the Midnight’s Children writer detailed how his life has changed since the incident. As well as having lost 40 pounds and now being blind in one eye, Rushdie also revealed that he has had some issues with sleeping.

“There have been nightmares – not exactly the incident, but just frightening,” he said in the New Yorker profile, published on Monday (6 February).

“Those seem to be diminishing. I’m fine. I’m able to get up and walk around. When I say I’m fine, I mean, there’s bits of my body that need constant checkups. It was a colossal attack.”

He later added that he’s been experiencing symptoms of PTSD, and that the ordeal has affected his ability to be as creative with his words as he once was.

“I’ve found it very, very difficult to write,” Rushdie explained. “I sit down to write, and nothing happens. I write, but it’s a combination of blankness and junk, stuff that I write and that I delete the next day. I’m not out of that forest yet, really.”

In terms of his physical healing, the author said that while the “big” injuries have healed, he has lost the feeling in some parts of his hand and is optimistic that he’ll regain it in time.

Salman Rushdie in 2018
Salman Rushdie in 2018 (Getty Images)

“I have feeling in my thumb and index finger and in the bottom half of the palm,” he noted. “I’m doing a lot of hand therapy, and I’m told that I’m doing very well.”

Read more about his weight loss after the incident and his plans to write about it, here.

Prior to his stabbing, Rushdie had had decades of experience in living under the threat of attack. After the publication of the 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination.

Although Rushdie went into hiding after the order, he travelled freely for many years prior to the attack. Just a fortnight before the attack, he told the German publication Stern that “nowadays my life is very normal again”.

Last week, his agent confirmed that he will not make any public appearances to promote his new book, Victory City, following the incident.

Hadi Matar, 24, was arrested and charged with one count of second-degree attempted murder and one count of second-degree assault in relation to the attack. He pleaded not guilty and his trial is likely to take place in 2024.

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