Sir Salman Rushdie is reportedly on a ventilator and could lose an eye after being stabbed on stage in upstate New York.
The 75-year-old Indian-born British author suffered nerve damage in his arm and damage to his liver, according to the New York Times.
New York State Police have named the alleged attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, who was taken into custody after the incident.
Sir Rushdie, whose writings led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was about to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, about 65 miles southwest of Buffalo, when the incident occurred.
According to police officials, he was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the stomach before being taken to the hospital.
According to the NYT, Sir Rushdie’s agent Andrew Wylie said he was on a ventilator and unable to speak.
Mr Wylie added the news was “not good” and the author will “probably lose an eye”.
He said the nerves in Sir Rushdie’s arm were severed in the attack and his liver was “stabbed and damaged”.
Major Eugene Staniszweski of the New York State Police said late Friday: “At approximately 10:47 a.m. this morning, guest speakers Salman Rushdie, 75, and Ralph Henry Reese, 73, had just arrived on the institution’s stage.
“Shortly thereafter, the suspect jumped onto the stage and attacked Mr Rushdie, stabbing him at least once in the neck and at least once in the stomach.
“Several facility employees and bystanders fell on the suspect and took him to the ground, and shortly thereafter, a police officer who was at the facility, with the help of a Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Deputy, took the suspect into custody.
“Mr Rushdie received medical attention from a doctor who was in the audience until emergency services arrived.
“Mr Rushdie was flown to a local trauma center and is still undergoing surgery.”
Photos from the Associated Press (AP) news agency showed Sir Rushdie lying on his back with his legs raised and a first responder leaning over him.
His book The Satanic Verses has been banned in Iran since 1988 as considered blasphemous by many Muslims, and its publication prompted then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa calling for his death.
Mr Reese of the City of Asylum organization, a residency program for writers living in exile at risk of persecution, suffered a minor head injury.
They should discuss America’s role as a haven for exiled writers and other artists and as a home for freedom of creative expression.
A video posted by the audience showed a man dressed in black being led away from the stage.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference that a state police officer saved Sir Salman’s life.
She added: “He’s alive, he’s been flown to safety. But here is a person who has spent decades speaking truth to those in power, someone who braved the threats that have dogged him throughout his adult life.”
The Chautauqua Institution, which hosted the lecture, tweeted about the incident, writing, “We ask for your prayers and patience for Salman Rushdie and Henry Reese as we focus our utmost attention on coordinating with law enforcement officers following a tragic incident at the amphitheater today.”
Its President Michael Hill said: “What we witnessed today in Chautauqua is an incident unprecedented in our nearly 150-year history.
“We were founded to bring people together and communities to learn, creating solutions through action, developing empathy and tackling persistent problems.
“Today we are called to embrace fear and the worst of all human qualities – hate.”
Jeremy Genovese, 68, of Beachwood, Ohio, a retired Cleveland State University academic, told the PA news agency he arrived at the amphitheater just as it was being evacuated and people were “streaming out.”
He said: “People were shocked, many people were crying. Chautauqua has always prided itself on being a place where people can participate in civil dialogue.
“The amphitheater is a large outdoor venue where lectures have been given since the late 18th century. You need a pass to get onto the premises, but it’s not too difficult to get inside.”
Penguin Random House, editor of Sir Rushdie, said it was “deeply shocked and appalled” by the incident.
Chief Executive Markus Dohle said in a statement to PA: “We are deeply shocked and appalled to hear of the attack on Salman Rushdie while he was speaking at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.
“We condemn this violent public attack and our thoughts are with Salman and his family at this distressing time.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie was stabbed while exercising a right we should never stop defending”.
He added: “Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We all hope he is doing well.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said: “Today the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack on writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling.
“All of us in the Biden-Harris administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are grateful to the good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for their prompt and effective work which is ongoing.”
Sir Rushdie was previously president of PEN America, which celebrates free speech and expression, and its chief executive, Suzanne Nossel, was among those who responded to the attack.
She tweeted, “PEN America is shocked and appalled by the news of a brutal, premeditated attack on our former President and staunch ally, Salman Rushdie.”
She added: “Our thoughts and passions are with our fearless Salman now, wishing him a full and speedy recovery. We sincerely hope and believe that his essential voice cannot and will not be silenced.”
Sir Rushdie began his writing career in the early 1970s with two unsuccessful books about the birth of India before Midnight’s Children, which won the 1981 Booker Prize.
It made him famous worldwide and was named “Best of the Bookers” on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the literary prize.
The author lived in London under a British government protection program for many years after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa demanding his death over The Satanic Verses.
Finally, in 1998, the Iranian government withdrew its support for the death sentence and Sir Rushdie gradually returned to public life, even appearing as himself in the 2001 hit film Bridget Jones’s Diary.
The Index on Censorship, an organization promoting free speech, said it was not until 2016 that money was raised to increase the reward for Sir Rushdie’s murder, underscoring that the fatwa for his death still stands.
His other works include The Moor’s Last Sigh and Shalimar The Clown, which was longlisted for The Booker.
He was knighted in 2008 and made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honor in the Queen’s Birthday Honors earlier that year.
https://www.independent.ie/news/author-sir-salman-rushdie-on-a-ventilator-and-could-lose-an-eye-after-new-york-attack-41909390.html Author Sir Salman Rushdie “is on a ventilator and could lose an eye” after the New York attack