Salman Rushdie reads excerpts from his new book “Knife”

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Author Salman Rushdie spent years in hiding after Iran's leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for his assassination in 1989, declaring Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses blasphemous and an insult in islam After 10 years, Rushdie came out of hiding and moved to the United States, where he felt safe. Then, on August 12, 2022, at a literary festival in Chautauqua, New York, he was attacked by a knife-wielding assailant. Rushdie was stabbed 15 times and almost died. He lost his right eye in the attack. He has come to terms with the attempt on his life in the only way he knows how: by writing about it in his new book. “Knife” is out this week.

Rushdie read several excerpts from “Knife” over 60 minutes.


Why Salman Rushdie Wrote 'Knife'

00:24

“I would respond to violence with art,” says author Salman Rushdie. She initially didn't want to write her new book “Knife” about the attack, but she felt she needed to own what happened, refusing to be a victim.

“No matter what I have written or may write now, I will always be the guy who made a knife out of it. The knife defines me. I will wage a battle against it, but I suspect I will lose,” he writes.


“My body was dying and it was taking me with it,” says Rushdie

00:30

a”There was nothing supernatural about it. There was no 'tunnel of light'. No feeling of leaving my body,” writes Rushdie, describing his near-death experience in 2022 in his new book. “In fact, I've rarely felt so strongly connected to my body. My body was dying and it was taking me with it.”


Salman Rushdie's attacker

00:35

“I don't want to use his name in this story,” the author writes of his 24-year-old assailant. In “Knife” Rushdie refers to the attacker as “the A”. After the attack, she learned that the assailant had only read a couple of pages from her book, “The Satanic Verses,” according to the New York Post.


Rushdie's first thought before a near-fatal attack

01:33

“So it's you. Here you are.” These were Rushdie's first thoughts when a man with a knife lunged at him before stabbing him.

“Henry James's last words are said to have been 'So the distinguished thing has come at last.' Death was approaching me too, but it didn't seem so distinguished,” says Rushdie.

Speaking to 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper, Rushdie explained: “It felt like something was coming out of the distant past. And I was trying to drag myself back in time.”


Rushdie: 'I was just stabbing wildly'

01:46

“The knife was in the eye. That was the cruelest blow, and it was a deep wound. The blade went all the way to the optic nerve, which meant there would be no chance of saving the sight. I had already gone,” Rushdie writes.


Rushdie: “They were looking at what I couldn't see: me”

01:23

After being stabbed 15 times, Salman Rushdie's face was split open. In his new book “Knife,” he writes that his face looked like “a special effect from a sci-fi movie.” He describes his eye as protruding from its socket and hanging on his face like a large, soft egg. He writes, “the swelling was so bad that the doctors didn't even know, in those early days, if I still had an eyelid. (I did).”


Rushdie in his reflection in the mirror

00:57

In the days after the attack, he did not recognize his own reflection. “The lips of the man in the mirror are not moving. There is a cut on the top of his forehead,” Rushdie writes. “Now he is the man beyond the mirror and the mirror is behind him and dark. He is the stranger who must play his part.”


Rushdie's message to 'the man who didn't kill an unarmed 75-year-old writer'

01:11

If Salman Rushdie testifies against his attacker in court, here's what he plans to say: “I feel like I have very little to say to you. Our lives touched for a moment and then parted. Mine has gotten better since of that day, while yours has deteriorated. You made a bad bet and lost.”


Rushdie: “The last thing my right eye would ever see”

00:33

“The last thing my right eye would ever see: I saw the man in black running towards me from the right side of the sitting area. Black clothes, black mask. He was coming in low and loud,” Rushdie writes in his new book, “Knife”. “I didn't try to run. I was stuck.”



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