In New Memoir “Knife”, Salman Rushdie Reflects on Being Attacked in 2022: ‘What Do I Imagine I Could Have Done?’

The Booker Prize-winning author was stabbed while speaking at a literary festival in New York

<p>Dave Kotinsky/Getty; Random House </p> Salman Rushdie and the cover of

Dave Kotinsky/Getty; Random House

Salman Rushdie and the cover of 'Knife'

Salman Rushdie is opening up about the horrific attempt on his life in 2022 in a new memoir.

The writer, 76, is speaking out in-depth about the incident in his book, Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, now available from Random House.

On Aug. 12, 2022, while speaking during a literary festival in Chautauqua, N.Y., Rushdie was attacked by an assailant with a knife. The author sustained 15 wounds to his chest and torso, and three additional wounds to his neck, his literary agent Andrew Wylie told Spanish language newspaper El País at the time. Rushdie was placed on a ventilator, and lost sight in one eye, as well as the use of one of his hands.

<p>Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty</p> Salman Rushdie in 2023

Jordan Pettitt/PA Images via Getty

Salman Rushdie in 2023

In Knife, Rushdie details how he feels about the attack today, as excerpted in a New York Times book review.

“On some days I’m embarrassed, even ashamed, by my failure to try to fight back,” Rushdie writes. “On other days I tell myself not to be stupid, what do I imagine I could have done? This is as close to understanding my inaction as I’ve been able to get: The targets of violence experience a crisis in their understanding of the real.”

Related: Salman Rushdie Stabbing Witness Describes Horrific Scene from Onstage Attack: 'There Was a Loud Roar'

Per the book’s official description, Rushdie, who is the author of 13 novels, including the Booker Prize-winning Midnight’s Children, “answers violence with art” in his latest book.

Rushdie writes of the attack itself, referring to the assailant — Hadi Matar, who was then 24-years-old — as “the A,” The Atlantic reports. The author also details his experience in the trauma center, the severity of his injuries and his marriage to American writer Rachel Eliza Griffiths in what the publisher calls "an ultimately life-affirming meditation on life, loss, love, art."

<p>Random House </p> The cover of 'Knife' by Salman Rushdie

Random House

The cover of 'Knife' by Salman Rushdie

Matar's trial was postponed due to the publication of Rushdie’s memoir, as Matar’s lawyer argued that the memoir, as well as other related materials, constitute evidence.

The 2022 attack isn’t the first time that Rushdie has been embroiled in controversy. In 1989, Iranian leader Ayatollah Rullolah Khomeini issued a fatwa that called for Rushdie’s assassination, objecting to the author’s portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses.

Related: What to Know About Salman Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' Controversy

Rushdie spent nearly a decade in hiding until the Iranian government said in 1998 that it would no longer enforce the fatwa. Rushdie became an advocate for free speech, and wrote about his experience under the fatwa in his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton, whose title refers to the alias he used during that period.

<p>Dave Kotinsky/Getty </p> Salman Rushdie

Dave Kotinsky/Getty

Salman Rushdie

As for Knife, the book is already gathering attention. A private launch party was held with Rushdie in attendance on April 11, though books were not readily available for guests to peruse or take home, Intelligencer reported. The event’s attendees included writers Sloane Crosley and Marlon James, CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins and actor Tony Danza.

Related: Salman Rushdie Off Ventilator, But Injuries Are 'Life Changing,' Son Says

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Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder is available now, wherever books are sold.

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