Salman Rushdie recounts in first individual the assault that nearly price him his life: “I stood still like a piñata and let him destroy me” | Culture | EUROtoday

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There are components which are canonical horror: “And when the nurse came in to treat my injured eye, Eliza and the others saw what looked like a special effect from a science fiction movie, the eye very distended, protruding from the socket and hanging on the cheekbone like a soft-boiled egg.” Salman Rushdie lay on a respirator, he had wounds in his chest, steel staples in his throat and cheek, a bit of his gut had been eliminated, his neck seemed swollen, darkish with blood, and his coronary heart was “bruised.” . His accomplice prevented him from trying within the mirror for a very long time.

The author remembers it as that scene of The seventh seal, by Ingmar Bergman, by which the knight performs chess with loss of life, making an attempt to delay the ultimate checkmate. It wasn't clear that he would survive, however he survived. He misplaced that horror film eye; however not life. Rushdie collects in his new ebook, Knife. Meditations after an assassination try (Random House, translation by Luis Murillo Fort), the first-person expertise of struggling a terrorist assault. Of being stabbed fifteen occasions; that appear infinite.

It occurred in August 2022, when the British creator of Indian origin was giving a convention in Chautauqua, within the state of New York. There the aggressor Hadi Matar (within the story he prefers to name him solely A.) received on stage and stabbed the creator. Rushdie had appeared on stage in an amphitheater that might seat 4 thousand individuals, which was fairly full, and by which he had acquired loud applause. Then out of the nook of his proper eye (“the last thing that eye was going to see”) he perceived a person wearing black, with a balaclava, working by means of the stalls. He stood paralyzed. He nonetheless wonders why.

34 and a half years earlier, in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, chief of the Iranian revolution and consultant of Allah on earth, had issued a loss of life sentence (by means of a fatwa) towards Rushdie for the publication of satanic verses, which he thought-about a blasphemous textual content. He requested that the Muslims kill him wherever he was. Seeing the attacker, after a lot time, Rushdie thought:

“I mean, it's you.” Here you might be.

Somehow he had gotten used to residing with that risk and he couldn't consider that now, so a few years later, loss of life was going to come back to him on that stage. The most hanging factor was that, at first, the general public had additionally been paralyzed. Many thought that it was a efficiency (fairly macabre, by the best way) to exemplify the content material of the convention, which was, exactly, the persecution that some authors endure for exercising their freedom of expression.

Salman Rushdie is handled on the bottom after being attacked.Photo: JOSHUA GOODMAN (AP) | Video: EPV

“I did not see the knife, or at any rate have no memory of it,” Rushdie writes. He didn't know if it was lengthy or quick, or a looking knife or a stiletto, or a serrated knife like these used to chop bread, or a typical kitchen knife. In any case, it served its function: to chop Rushdie's flesh, assault his very important organs, endanger his life. “Why didn't I fight? Why didn't I run away? “I stayed still like a piñata and let him destroy me,” he says within the ebook. First a blow to the jaw, then wounds to the palms, stab wounds to the neck, assaults to the chest, to the left nook of the mouth, even to the fitting thigh. The stab wound in the fitting eye reached the optic nerve. “That eye would never see again.”

The assault, which lasted nearly half a minute (the time it takes to recite an Lord's Prayer or a Shakespearean sonnet, the creator observes), ended when moderator Henry Reese, a person in his seventies, heroically got here to subdue the aggressor (who was 24), an motion that was joined by different individuals within the viewers whom Rushdie can’t even identify. The attacker didn’t know a lot about satanic verses, had said that he had solely learn a few pages. In the textual content, Rushdie describes faith as a “medieval form of unreason,” which, mixed with modern weaponry, poses “a real threat to our freedoms.”

love conquers hate

In Knife Rushdie begins from that essential second, when he seemed loss of life nose to nose, and all the time finally ends up returning to that second, however in between he opens the circle and reaches different issues, the place autobiographical particulars are combined (for instance, the best way by which he met his accomplice, the poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and his relationship together with her) and different disquisitions round life, loss of life, violence or literature. In quick: about how love conquers hate.

Salman Rushdie in London in July 2023.
Salman Rushdie in London in July 2023.Jordan Pettitt (PA / Cordon Press)

Four imaginary interviews are recreated between Rushdie and his attacker, who has proven no regret, by which the author tries to grasp (and persuade) the attacker, who within the dialog seems cussed and evasive, obsessive about faith, Netflix and the videogames. The author speaks to him, very professorially, about Bertrand Russell, Ovid, Socrates, Franz Fanon; the opposite invariably responds with the Yutubi magnet.

Elsewhere, Rushdie relates some curious particulars, of a metaphysical nature, equivalent to, for instance, that a few nights earlier than the assault he dreamed of a Roman gladiator attacking him with a spear. That somebody would stand up from the viewers and pounce on him had been a recurring dream since Khomeini's conviction, and this dream lastly got here true. When he awoke from the surgical procedure, which lasted eight hours, he skilled unusual architectural visions: “Sumptuous palaces and other majestic buildings built from letters, as if the entire world were made of the alphabet, the same basic material of language and poetry.” ”, as he writes.

The postoperative interval was exhausting, with dizziness, nightmares and even a urinary an infection. Later he would return to the scene of the crime, the place he noticed the distinction of the great thing about the place with the horrendousness of what occurred there, to shut that disastrous circle of life that, as he says, a minimum of helped him shed some pounds. Salman Rushdie managed to elevate his spirits by reviewing the proofs of what was his subsequent novel, Victoria City. Especially together with his final sentence: “Words are the only winners.”

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