November 26, 2022

Salman Rushdie’s agent says the author has lost sight in one eye and the use of a hand as he recovers from an attack by a man who rushed the stage at one of the author’s August literary events in western New York, according to a published report.

Literary agent Andrew Wylie told the Spanish language newspaper El País in an article published Saturday that Rushdie suffered three serious wounds to his neck and 15 more to his chest and torso in the attack, which left him unable to see from one eye and unable to use one hand.

Rushdie, 75, spent years in hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 edict, a fatwa, calling for his death after the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses.” Some Muslims consider the book blasphemous. Over the past two decades, Rushdie has traveled freely.

Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, has been incarcerated and held without bail after pleading not guilty to attempted murder and assault in the Aug. 12 attack on Rushdie. It happened as the author was being introduced at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education center 55 miles southwest of Buffalo that is known for its summertime lecture series.

After the attack, Rushdie was treated at a Pennsylvania hospital, where he was briefly put on a ventilator to recover from what Wylie told El País was a “brutal attack” that cut nerves to one arm.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie attends the 68th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on Nov. 15, 2017, in New York.

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File


Wylie told the newspaper that he could not say whether Rushdie remained in a hospital or discuss his whereabouts.

“He’s going to live … That’s the important thing,” Wylie said. The agent told El País that the unexpected nature of the August incident was something that he and Rushdie had talked about before.

“I think the attack was probably something that Salman and I have discussed in the past, which was that the principal danger that he faced so many years after the fatwa was imposed is from a random person coming out of nowhere and attacking [him],” he said. “So, you can’t protect against that because it’s totally unexpected and illogical.”

Wylie likened the circumstances of Rushdie’s assault to the murder of Beatles member John Lennon in 1980. Lennon was fatally shot by Mark David Chapman outside of his Manhattan apartment building on Dec. 8 of that year, hours after the performer had signed an autograph for Chapman.

In a video interview with the New York Post from the Chautauqua County Jail later in August, Matar said he disliked Rushdie and was “surprised” that he survived the attack, and praised Khomeini. 

Iran has denied involvement in the attack as well as any connection to Matar.

“In this attack, we do not consider anyone other than Salman Rushdie and his supporters worthy of blame and even condemnation,” said foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani at a news conference in Tehran. “By insulting the sacred matters of Islam and crossing the red lines of more than 1.5 billion Muslims and all followers of the divine religions, Salman Rushdie has exposed himself to the anger and rage of the people.”

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