May 25, 2024

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Undeterred, Salman Rushdie discusses his new memoir, “The Knife.”

Undeterred, Salman Rushdie discusses his new memoir, “The Knife.”

Rushdie says in the book: “If it were not for Henry and the audience, I would not be sitting here writing these words.” “On that Chautauqua morning, I encountered the worst and the best of human nature, almost simultaneously.”

At first it was not clear whether he would survive.

“The severity of his injuries was insane, like something out of a horror movie,” said Andrew Wylie, who represented the author for decades. Rushdie remained in the hospital for approximately two months. Even after he returned home, he had vivid, horrific dreams — about the Duke of Gloucester going blind in “King Lear,” and about the opening scene of Luis Buñuel’s “Un Chien Andalou,” in which a cloud drifting across the moon becomes a razor blade severing an eye. He had medical appointments almost every day, and different specialists for each affected body part. “Everyone had to sign off on the various repair works,” he said.

Rushdie was thinking about an idea for a novel before the attack. “But when I finally felt the juice starting to flow again, I went and opened the file I had, and it looked ridiculous,” he said. “It became clear to me that until I dealt with this, I wouldn't be able to write anything else.”

“The Knife” is a deep and intimate book, in contrast to an earlier memoir, “Joseph Anton,” a 2012 book written in the third person, in which the central character existed on the same level as the supporting players.

“I wanted it to read like a novel,” Rushdie explained of the previous book. But “The Knife” is different. “This isn't a novel. I mean when someone sticks a knife in you, that's very personal. The first one is beautiful,” he said.

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