Salman Rushdie 'on the road to recovery,' agent says

  • FILE - Salman Rushdie attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York. Rushdie is 'úon the road to recovery,'Ě his agent confirmed Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, two days after the author of 'úThe Satanic Verses'Ě suffered serious injuries in a stabbing at a lecture in upstate New York. The announcement followed news that the lauded writer was removed from a ventilator Saturday and able to talk and joke. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

    FILE - Salman Rushdie attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York. Rushdie is 'úon the road to recovery,'Ě his agent confirmed Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, two days after the author of 'úThe Satanic Verses'Ě suffered serious injuries in a stabbing at a lecture in upstate New York. The announcement followed news that the lauded writer was removed from a ventilator Saturday and able to talk and joke. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) Associated Press

  • Hadi Matar, 24, center, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Matar, who is accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'úSatanic Verses'Ě author Salman Rushdie has entered a not-guilty plea in a New York court on charges of attempted murder and assault. An attorney for Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment hearing.

    Hadi Matar, 24, center, arrives for an arraignment in the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, N.Y., Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Matar, who is accused of carrying out a stabbing attack against 'úSatanic Verses'Ě author Salman Rushdie has entered a not-guilty plea in a New York court on charges of attempted murder and assault. An attorney for Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment hearing. Associated Press

  • Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo.

    Author Salman Rushdie is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo. Associated Press

  • ADDS NAME OF DETAINED PERSON This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by Matar who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York.

    ADDS NAME OF DETAINED PERSON This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by Matar who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. Associated Press

  • People gather at an evening vigil for author Salman Rushdie after was attacked, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today.

    People gather at an evening vigil for author Salman Rushdie after was attacked, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today. Associated Press

  • People gather at an evening vigil pray and observe a moment of silence after an attack on author Salman Rushdie, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today.

    People gather at an evening vigil pray and observe a moment of silence after an attack on author Salman Rushdie, Friday Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. Rushdie, whose novel "The Satanic Verses" drew death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in western New York earlier today. Associated Press

  • In this still image from video, author Salman Rushdie is taken on a stretcher to a helicopter for transport to a hospital after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022.

    In this still image from video, author Salman Rushdie is taken on a stretcher to a helicopter for transport to a hospital after he was attacked during a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Associated Press

  • Flowers bloom outside the Chautauqua Institution welcome center in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution.

    Flowers bloom outside the Chautauqua Institution welcome center in Chautauqua, N.Y., Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. Salman Rushdie, the author whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck Friday by a man who rushed the stage as he was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution. Associated Press

  • Blood stains mark a screen as author Salman Rushdie, behind screen, is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo.

    Blood stains mark a screen as author Salman Rushdie, behind screen, is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, N.Y., about 75 miles (120 km) south of Buffalo. Associated Press

  • People scan publications at a news stand in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Salman Rushdie, whose novel 'úThe Satanic Verses'Ě drew death threats from Iran's leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York.

    People scan publications at a news stand in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. Salman Rushdie, whose novel 'úThe Satanic Verses'Ě drew death threats from Iran's leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in western New York. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 8/14/2022 1:08 PM

MAYVILLE, N.Y. -- Salman Rushdie is 'úon the road to recovery,'Ě his agent confirmed Sunday, two days after the author of 'úThe Satanic Verses'Ě suffered serious injuries in a stabbing at a lecture in New York.

The announcement followed news that the lauded writer was removed from a ventilator Saturday and able to talk. Literary agent Andrew Wylie cautioned that although Rushdie's 'úcondition is headed in the right direction,'Ě his recovery would be long. Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and in an eye that he was likely to lose, Wylie had previously said.

 

'úThough his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact,'Ě Rushdie's son Zafar Rushdie said in a Sunday statement that stressed the author remained in critical condition. The family statement also expressed gratitude for the 'úaudience members who bravely leapt to his defence," as well as police, doctors and 'úthe outpouring of love and support.'Ě

Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty Saturday to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called 'úa targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack'Ě at western New York's Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center.

The attack was met with global shock and outrage, along with praise for the man who, for more than three decades - including nine years in hiding under the protection of the British government - has weathered death threats and a $3 million bounty on his head over 'úThe Satanic Verses.'Ě

'úIt's an attack against his body, his life and against every value that he stood for,'Ě Henry Reese, 73, told The Associated Press. The cofounder of Pittsburgh's City of Asylum was on stage with Rushdie and suffered a gash to his forehead, bruising and other minor injuries. They had planned to discuss the need for writers' safety and freedom of expression.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

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

'úSalman 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,'Ě U.S. President Joe Biden said in a Saturday statement. 'úTruth. Courage. Resilience. The ability to share ideas without fear.'Ě

Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family and has lived in Britain and the U.S., is known for his surreal and satirical prose, beginning with his Booker Prize-winning 1981 novel 'úMidnight's Children,'Ě in which he sharply criticized then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

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

They believed Rushdie insulted the Prophet Muhammad by naming a character Mahound, a medieval corruption of 'úMuhammad.'Ě The character was a prophet in a city called Jahilia, which in Arabic refers to the time before the advent of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula. Another sequence includes prostitutes that share names with some of Muhammad's nine wives. The novel also implies that Muhammad, not Allah, may have been the Quran's real author.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The book had already been banned and burned in India, Pakistan and elsewhere when Iran's Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie's death in 1989. Khomeini died that same year, but the fatwa remains in effect - though Iran, in recent years, hadn't focused on Rushdie.

Iran's state-run newspaper, Iran Daily, praised the attack as an 'úimplementation of divine decree'Ě Sunday. Another hardline newspaper, Kayhan, termed it 'údivine revenge'Ě that would partially calm the anger of Muslims.

Investigators were trying to determine whether the suspect, born nearly a decade after the novel's publication, acted alone. A prosecutor alluded to the standing fatwa as a potential motive in arguing against bail.

'úHis resources don't matter to me. We understand that the agenda that was carried out yesterday is something that was adopted and it's sanctioned by larger groups and organizations well beyond the jurisdictional borders of Chautauqua County,'Ě District Attorney Jason Schmidt said.

Schmidt said Matar got an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arrived a day early bearing a fake ID. The judge ordered Matar held without bail.

Public defender Nathaniel Barone complained that authorities had taken too long to get Matar in front of a judge, leaving him 'úhooked up to a bench at the state police barracks,'Ě and stressed that Matar had the right to presumed innocence.

Barone said after the hearing that Matar has been communicating openly with him and that he would try to learn whether his clinet has psychological or addiction issues.

Matar was born in the United States to parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, village mayor Ali Tehfe told the AP. Flags of the Iran-backed Shia militant group Hezbollah, along with portraits of Hezbollah and Iranian leaders, were visible across Yaroun before journalists visiting Saturday were asked to leave.

Hezbollah spokespeople did not respond to requests for comment. Lebanon's top Shiite Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Kabalan vilified Rushdie in a speech Sunday without directly endorsing the attack, saying the author was 'úthe cheapest and worst personality to deal with history and heritage by fabricating lies and hypocrisies.'Ě


In Tehran, some Iranians interviewed by the AP praised the attack on an author they believe tarnished the Islamic faith, while others worried it would further isolate their country.

A state trooper and a county sheriff's deputy were assigned to Rushdie's lecture, and police said the trooper made the arrest. But afterward, some longtime visitors to the bucolic vacation colony questioned why there wasn't tighter security given the history of threats against Rushdie.

On Friday, an AP reporter witnessed the attacker stab or punch Rushdie about 10 or 15 times. Reese, the moderator, told CNN he initially thought the attack was a prank.

News about the stabbing has led to renewed interest in 'úThe Satanic Verses,'Ě which topped bestseller lists after the fatwa was issued in 1989. As of Sunday morning, the novel ranked No. 11 on Amazon.com's list.

One of Rushdie's ex-wives, the author and television host Padma Lakshmi, tweeted Sunday that she was 'úrelieved'Ě by Rushdie's prognosis.

'úWorried and wordless, can finally exhale," she wrote. "Now hoping for swift healing.'Ě

___

Italie reported from New York. Associated Press journalists Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Kareem Chehayeb and Bassem Mroue in Beirut; Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jill Lawless in London and Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.