Last August, acclaimed author Salman Rushdie was attacked onstage during an event in upstate New York. Rushdie lost the use of one hand and is no longer able to see in one eye as a result of the attack. It was a harrowing reminder of the fatwa issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death in the wake of the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
Rushdie wrote about the experience of living under the fatwa in his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton, and it sounds like he’ll be the doing the same for this more recent event as well. Publishers Weekly reports that Rushdie’s next book will be titled Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder — and it’s set for a U.S. release on Random House on April 16, 2024.
In a statement accompanying the news, Rushdie spoke of the importance for him of writing this book. “This was a necessary book for me to write, a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” the author said.
Revisiting Rushdie’s comments in the wake of the publication of Joseph Anton offers further details on how he processes trauma through his work. “For a long time I did not want to write this book,” he told Charles McGrath of Thew New York Times in 2012. “I felt that it would be upsetting to have to emotionally re-enter that time and immerse myself in it. But I knew always that I would have to.”
That said, looking back at the interviews Rushdie gave to promote Joseph Anton also take on a bittersweet tone in the wake of the 2022 attack. “I knew the first scene and I knew the last scene: me literally going out and hailing a cab, the return of ordinary, banal life,” he said of writing his earlier memoir. Those words, sadly, read far differently now.
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