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Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder

Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder
Salman Rushdie
Penguin, 2024

Salman Rushdie is someone who has famously lived a significant portion of his life under the threat of death and, through his writing, the powerful insistence upon life in all its glorious variations.

In August 2022, after surviving the fatwa declared against him for 43 years, Salman Rushdie was attacked by someone who wasn’t even born when it was declared. The man who attacked him, referred to only as “A” in Knife, had never read The Satanic Verses and had only a superficial familiarity with Rushdie or his writing.

Rushdie was stabbed 12 times, including through his left hand, severing all his tendons and most of his nerves, and into his right eye damaging his optic nerve, taking his sight in that eye. In the memoir that follows, he outlines his survival, his recovery and coming to terms with a direction for his future.

Before the attack happens, Salman Rushdie is a happy man. He is newly married and about to publish a new novel, Victory City, which he describes seeing the proofs for during the course of his recovery. He lives mostly in New York with his poet wife, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, who goes by Eliza and visits his adult sons from his first marriage in London.

He is, personally and professionally, deeply fulfilled and contented, about to publicly speak at the Chautuaqua Institution about the creation of safe spaces in America for writers from elsewhere.

Rushie reflects upon his life after writing The Satanic Verses and the trauma involved in the way he has been treated by many of his peers who see him as culpable for his own danger.

He goes through the gruelling process of recovery and rehabilitation, trying to find some kind of emotional stability for himself and those who go through having to watch him so close to death, constructing an imaginary interview with the perpetrator and revisiting the scene of the crime.

Rushdie concludes that he will go on living in the same way that he always has, speaking for tolerance, pluralism and acceptance in an increasingly hostile, violent and fragmented society.

An engaging and powerful reflection from a masterful storyteller.

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