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Salman Rushdie is off the ventilator and his condition is 'headed in the right direction', his agent has said.

The acclaimed author who was hospitalised on August 12 with serious injuries after being repeatedly stabbed at a public appearance in New York state. Now, he is off a ventilator and his condition is improving, his agent said on Sunday.

"He's off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun," his agent, Andrew Wylie, wrote in an email to Reuters. "It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction."

“Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact," Rushdie's son Zafar Rushdie said in a statement that stressed the author remained in critical condition. 

The statement on behalf of the family also expressed gratitude for the “audience members who bravely leapt to his defence," as well as police, doctors and “the outpouring of love and support from around the world."

Authors, activists and government officials cited Rushdie's bravery and longtime championing of free speech in the face of such intimidation. Writer and longtime friend Ian McEwan labeled Rushdie “an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists" and actor-author Kal Penn called him a role model “for an entire generation of artists, especially many of us in the South Asian diaspora."

“Salman Rushdie — with his insight into humanity, with his unmatched sense for story, with his refusal to be intimidated or silenced — stands for essential, universal ideals," U.S. President Joe Biden said in a Saturday statement. “Truth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear."

Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family and has lived in Britain and the US, is known for his surreal and satirical prose, beginning with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel “Midnight's Children," in which he sharply criticized India's then-prime minister, Indira Gandhi.

Infused with magical realism, 1988's “The Satanic Verses" drew ire from some Muslims who regarded elements of the novel as blasphemy.

(With agency inputs)

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