Better news about the British-American author today…
ONE OF THE WORLD’S greatest writers – Sir Salman Rushdie – appears to be out of mortal danger after being stabbed repeatedly before a talk in New York State on Friday (August 12).
The latest reports state that he is off a ventilator and able to speak.
His agent Andrew Wylie said initially that the author was likely to lose an eye, and had suffered damage to his liver, having been stabbed repeatedly in the face, neck and abdomen.
Suspect Hadi Matar, 24, has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges. He has not been granted bail.
He is also reported to have attacked moderator Ralph Henry Reese who suffered a facial injury, but was released from hospital not long after the incident, police stated.
Sir Salman was about to take to the stage at Chautauaqua Institute, which promotes peace and dialogue and offers support to writers who find themselves targets of anger and fury.
There was shock and outrage at the attack – with many western leaders speaking out.
The 75-year-old author is best known in the literary world for his second novel, ‘Midnight’s Children’ – a kaleidoscopic, post-modern, smart, witty, stimulating novel about post-Independent India, as seen through the eyes of its narrator, Saleem Sinai – Bombay-born and raised and an irreverent, not always reliable, voice.
It was immediately hailed as a masterpiece and its enduring legacy is that it captures the mood of modern India, both its strengths and foibles – and as well chronicling a young nation’s growing pains, it charts Sinai’s too, very memorably.
Published in 1981, after Sir Salman’s debut science fiction work, ‘Grimus: A Novel’ (1975), it won the Booker Prize that year and was also deemed the best of Bookers in both 1993 and then again in 2008, this time in a public vote.
His works continue to enthral – his next book, ‘Victory City’ is set to be published in February next year. It takes place in Southern India, and is billed as a “story of love, adventure and myth” and is “based on the translation of an ancient epic”, reported the Times of India earlier today, in a story about a conversation the publication’s Vinita Dawra had with the author at the Times of India’s Literature Festival 2021.
London Times writer Sathnam Sanghera, the author of ‘Empireland‘ wrote a piece about interviewing Sir Salman and trying to focus solely on the work when he went to talk to him in New York a few years ago. He recounts how a photographer brought up the controversy and Sir Salman reacted. The conversation returned to his work and there is little question that his novels have outshone the politics and politicking. (See the link below – subscription required). Sir Salman lives in New York and has also been an American citizen since 2016.
It was his novel, ‘The Satanic Verses’, that has caused such furore. Published in 1988, it is deemed blasphemous by some Muslims and led to the Ayatollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, declaring a fatwa – on the author and Sir Salman was forced into hiding and was granted protection. He wrote an insightful and engaging memoir, ‘Joseph Anton: A Memoir‘, published in 2012, about his time in ‘exile’.
In effect, the fatwa was an assassination order against the novelist, and extended to translators and anyone involved its publication. The book’s Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi was murdered, while the Italian language translator Ettore Capriolo was seriously injured and the Norwegian publisher William Nygaard was critically injured and spent months in hospital.
In 1998, the Iranian government declared that it no longer formally approved of Sir Salman being assassinated, though political and religious elements in Iran, continue to insist the fatwa remains.
Picture: Wikipedia – (British author Salman Rushdie during the bookfair ‘Livre sur la place’ at Nancy in France, 2018)