UPDATED with latest: The Satanic Verses Author Salman Rushdie is on a ventilator after being seriously injured by an attacker who stabbed him multiple times on stage at a literary event on Friday morning. The Booker Prize-winning novelist spent hours in an operation after the attack, according to the New York Times.
“The news is not good,” Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie said in an email to the Times this evening. “Salman will probably lose an eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
BEFORE at 8:24 am: The Satanic Verses Author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck on stage in Chautauqua, NY today, New York City police have confirmed. The attacker is in police custody.
Rushdie was flown by helicopter to a local hospital, which also said the person interviewing Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in west New York suffered a minor head injury, police said.
An endocrinologist who was in the audience and offered to help related this New York Times that Rushdie had multiple stab wounds and a pool of blood under his body. She said people were like, “He’s got a pulse, he’s got a pulse.”
Around 11 a.m. ET, the Associated Press said its reporter saw a man storm the stage and began punching or stabbing 75-year-old Rushdie before the attacker was restrained.
Rushdie’s condition has been uncertain as people try to gather more information. Images on AP show him surrounded by others who rushed onto the stage immediately after the attack. AP said Rushdie was quickly surrounded by a small group of people holding his legs up, presumably to send more blood to his chest.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said: “I want to commend the state police. It was a state cop who stood up and protected him.”
Rushdie has both British and American citizenship, and the Chautauqua Institution talk was set to be the first in a seven-part series being hosted by the non-profit organization.
Rushdie’s controversial book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988 as it is considered blasphemous by many Muslims, and has been in place since the late 1980s fatwa Call for Rushdie’s death, which still exists today, ordered by Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1989, a failed assassination attempt on him in London ended in a premature bomb blast.
The Iranian bounty on Rushdie was increased to $3.3 million in 2012, though he previously dismissed concerns.
The Indian-born, Booker Prize-winning novelist has written a number of books both before and after the satanic verses, and he co-wrote the screenplay for the film version of midnight children with Deepa Mehta, a Netflix TV series of the same project is also in the works. Rushdie also appeared as himself in People like Curb your enthusiasm and The Diary of Bridget Jones. His other works include those from 1975 grim, 1983 a pity and 1999s The ground beneath their feet.
Rushdie was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors List a few weeks ago.
A statement from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression said the attack was a “terrifying reminder that when people stop trying to resolve their differences with words, all too often they try to do it with guns.”
“Mr. Rushdie has long understood the need for freedom of expression. He is among its strongest supporters,” she added.