Author talks about knife attack
Rushdie: “This guy wasn't a particularly good assassin”

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With his book “The Satanic Verses,” Salman Rushdie has made himself the archenemy of militant Islamists. Two years ago, the writer was attacked in public by a knife attacker. The 76-year-old spoke to the magazine “Stern” about the consequences of the attack.

The British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie was seriously injured in a knife attack in August 2022. Since then, the 76-year-old has been blind in his right eye. After the attack, during a lecture in the US state of New York, Rushdie said in an interview with “Stern” that he didn’t look at himself in the mirror for a long time.

“My wife forbade me to do that for a long time. She took photos of me from the first days of my recovery, but never showed me the pictures.” He only saw these photos two and a half months after the attack. “When I looked at it, I was very shocked.” In the conversation, Rushdie looks at his situation with clarity. “The assassination attempt and its consequences didn't make me stronger, it made me weaker,” he tells the magazine. “I have to be careful about things I never had to be careful about. Whether I can make it up and down stairs, for example.”

“I was given a second life”

Nevertheless, he feels very lucky to be “alive, because I shouldn't be alive anymore. I was given a second life. This guy wasn't a particularly good assassin, that was my luck. But he was damn close “To kill me.”

Rushdie sees the so-called cancel culture as a great threat to freedom of expression. “If you're writing and worrying about whether you're allowed to say something or not, then you're not free.” The Peace Prize winner from the German book trade explains that he is very worried about authors who are just starting to write. “There is no other way to be a writer than to write about people who are not like you.” Young authors would then always have to fear the accusation of “cultural appropriation”.

“Say and write what I think”

Rushdie emphasizes: “If you can only write about people who are like you, the art of the novel is dead.” He doesn't feel restricted in what he says or writes. “Luckily I can say: Fuck off. I say and write what I think. And if someone doesn't like that, then that's just the way it is.”

Rushdie was born in Mumbai in 1947. He studied history at King's College, Cambridge. He had his breakthrough as an author in 1981 with the novel “Midnight Children”. Seven years later, Rushdie published his book The Satanic Verses, which left some Muslims feeling offended in their religious sensibilities. Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini even issued an Islamic legal opinion calling for the killing of Rushdie and all those involved in the book's distribution.


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