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Rushdie's first thought on attempted assassin: 'So it's you'

By AFP

April 13, 2024 10:54 AM


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Salman Rushdie, targeted for assassination since 1989 over his writing, had long wondered who would kill him. When he was stabbed almost fatally, his first thought was, "So it's you."

The novelist has recounted his thoughts on his 2022 near death in a book, "Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder," which is set for publication on Tuesday.

In an excerpt from the book which he read for the CBS News show "60 Minutes," Rushdie described "the last thing my right eye would ever see" -- a man in black clothes "coming in hard and low" like a "squat missile."

"I confess, I had sometimes imagined my assassin rising up in some public forum or other, and coming for me in just this way. So my first thought when I saw this murderous shape rushing towards me was, 'So it's you. Here you are.'"

The Mumbai-born novelist -- acclaimed for his novel "Midnight's Children," a magical realist take on the Indian subcontinent's partition -- faced a storm of criticism in the Muslim world in 1988 when he released "The Satanic Verses," which touches on early Islam including through dream sequences that reference the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie, who went into hiding in Britain. He has since become a naturalized American.

Rushdie, 76, in recent years has lived with greater openness and became a presence on the New York social circuit. He was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in August 2022 as he prepared to speak at an arts gathering in New York state.

Speaking to 60 Minutes, Rushdie said that one of the surgeons who saved him told him, "'First you were really unlucky and then you were really lucky.'"

"I said, 'What's the lucky part?' And he said 'Well, the lucky part is that the man who attacked you had no idea how to kill a man with a knife.'"


AFP


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