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Business News/ News / World/  ‘Nearness of death makes you feel great loneliness’, says Salman Rushdie in memoir ‘Knife’ — top 10 things to know
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‘Nearness of death makes you feel great loneliness’, says Salman Rushdie in memoir ‘Knife’ — top 10 things to know

Acclaimed author Salman Rushdie faced a knife-wielding attacker during an arts gathering in New York in 2022, resulting in severe injuries, including blindness in one eye. His memoir ‘Knife’ details the incident.

File photo of author Salman Rushdie receiving the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation's first-ever lifetime achievement in November 2023. (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / AP)Premium
File photo of author Salman Rushdie receiving the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation's first-ever lifetime achievement in November 2023. (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / AP)

British-American author Salman Rushdie has released his much-awaited memoir "Knife" today, recounting the harrowing experience of being stabbed at a public event in 2022 and how he overcame the near-fatal ordeal.

Originally from India and now a naturalized American residing in New York, Rushdie gained global attention as a champion of free speech following death threats spurred by his controversial 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses.".

After years of threats, the author faced a knife-wielding attacker during an arts gathering in New York in 2022, resulting in severe injuries, including blindness in one eye.

Despite the brevity of ‘Knife’, it stands as a significant addition to Rushdie's body of work, renowned for its expansiveness and vibrancy, AP reported. It offers readers a poignant account of his journey from the brink of death to a renewed sense of purpose and connection with the world, AFP said.

Here are the top 10 things to know about Salman Rushdie's memoir Knife:

- Salman Rushdie unveiled his latest work 'Knife' on April 16, marking his first book since the harrowing incident in 2022 that resulted in his hospitalisation and partial blindness.

- In the opening lines of "Knife," Rushdie vividly recounts the August 12, 2022 attack in upstate New York, where he was assaulted with a knife shortly after beginning a discussion on writer safety at the Chautauqua Amphitheatre.

- The memoir, spanning just over 200 pages, provides insights into Rushdie's thoughts and reflections following the attack, offering a glimpse into his experiences and emotions during that traumatic period.

- This memoir is Rushdie's first since "Joseph Anton," published in 2012, which recounted his experiences living under the threat of a fatwa issued in response to his novel "The Satanic Verses."

- Rushdie's life, as depicted in 'Knife', extends beyond the incident, encompassing his relationships, including his marriage to poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths, whom he met in 2017.

- The memoir also touches upon the illness of Rushdie's close friend and fellow author, Martin Amis, who passed away in May 2023, following a battle with cancer.

- Referring to his assailant as 'The A', Rushdie explores his feelings towards the attacker and contemplates a hypothetical dialogue with him.

- Despite the trauma depicted in 'Knife', Rushdie's narrative also highlights moments of healing and resilience, depicting his return to public life and the outpouring of support he received from around the world, including from notable figures like United States President Joe Biden.

- Rushdie recounted a premonitory dream of being stabbed before the attack, which he initially dismissed, highlighting the irony of the situation as he had planned to use the payment from the event for home repairs. Despite the intended discussion on protecting threatened writers, Rushdie found himself in an unsafe environment, reflecting on the irony in his book.

- The aftermath of the attack haunted Rushdie with nightmares, as documented in his memoir.

Excerpts from Rushdie's book reveal his reflections on the attack, questioning his response and expressing a sense of inevitability rather than fear.

This cover image released by Random House shows 'Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder' by Salman Rushdie.
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This cover image released by Random House shows 'Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder' by Salman Rushdie. (Random House via AP)

Some Quotes from the Book

  • “At a quarter to eleven on August 12, 2022, on a sunny Friday morning in upstate New York, I was attacked and almost killed by a young man with a knife just after I came out on stage at the amphitheatre in Chautauqua to talk about the importance of keeping writers safe from harm."
  • As Rushdie observes in “Knife," subtitled “Meditations After an Attempted Murder," he had sometimes pictured his “public assassin" turning up. But the timing of the 2022 attack seemed not just startling, but “anachronistic," the rising of a “murderous ghost from the past," returning to settle a score Rushdie thought long resolved. He refers to August 11, 2022, as his “last innocent evening."
  • “I wasn't dead," Rushdie wrote. “I was in surgery."
  • Rushdie's charged assailant is Hadi Matar, but the author refers to him as “The A.," short for “The Ass" (or “Asinine man"). “I'm not looking for an apology. I do wonder how he feels, now that he has had time to think things over," Rushdie writes.
  • The nearness of death, Rushdie writes, can make you feel a “great loneliness." Words from others “make you feel that you're not alone, that maybe you haven't lived and worked in vain."

About Salman Rushdie

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie, born on June 19, 1947, in Mumbai, India, is an acclaimed Indian-born writer known for his allegorical novels that delve into historical and philosophical themes through surreal characters, brooding humour, and an effusive and melodramatic prose style. However, his exploration of sensitive religious and political subjects has made him a controversial figure.

Raised in England, Rushdie gained literary acclaim with "Midnight's Children" but faced immense controversy with "The Satanic Verses," leading to a life of hiding and police protection. Emerging from seclusion in the late 1990s, Rushdie became a prominent figure in global social circles, even venturing into film and television.

Married five times and with two children, Rushdie released his novel "Victory City" in 2023.

(With inputs from AP and AFP)

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Published: 16 Apr 2024, 12:10 PM IST
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