Salman Rushdie: My Attacker Is an 'Idiot'

Author talks to the 'New Yorker' about his slow road to recovery, and writing
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2023 2:58 PM CST
Salman Rushdie: I'm Struggling With PTSD
Author Salman Rushdie appears during the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, Miss., in 2018. Rushdie was blinded in his left eye in last year's stabbing attack.   (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

Nearly six months after the stabbing attack that nearly took his life, Salman Rushdie talks to New Yorker editor David Remnick about the incident and its aftermath. The prolific author reveals that he's been struggling to write—though he eschews the term "writer's block"—amid his recovery. "There is such a thing as PTSD, you know" he says. "I've found it very, very difficult to write. I sit there to write and nothing happens.” Or what does come out is a "combination of blankness and junk." Still, Rushdie assumes this is a temporary lapse and is planning his next book as he promotes his current one, Victory City. About that recovery: Remnick writes that the appearance of Rushdie is "startling." He's lost 40 pounds; wears an eye patch over his left eye, which was blinded in the attack; his lower lip droops on one side; and he has scar tissue on the side of his face.

Even so, "I’m lucky," Rushdie says. "What I really want to say is that my main overwhelming feeling is gratitude.” He remembers little about the attack itself, which lasted less than 30 seconds. He also says he blames only his alleged attacker, Hassan Matar—an "idiot"—for the assault. Asked by Remnick if he has any regrets about his decision to stop living under the radar even though a 1989 fatwa on his life out of Iran remains in effect, Rushdie responds. "Three quarters of my life as a writer has happened since the fatwa. I mean, in a way, you can't regret your life. Because without your life, you wouldn't have had your life." Read the full story, which also traces the arc of Rushdie's writing career. The two also talk on the "New Yorker Radio Hour" podcast. (Or check out other longform stories.)

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