Salman Rushdie's Friend Provides a Better Update

Author has serious injuries, but he is off ventilator and 'joking'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 14, 2022 5:25 AM CDT
Rushdie Is Off Ventilator, 'Joking,' Friend Says
Author Salman Rushdie appears at a signing for his book "Home" in London on June 6, 2017.   (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Salman Rushdie was taken off a ventilator and able to talk Saturday, a day after he was stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture in upstate New York. Rushdie remained hospitalized with serious injuries, but fellow author Aatish Taseer tweeted in the evening that he was “off the ventilator and talking (and joking),” per the AP. Rushdie’s agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed that information without offering further details. (Taseer later deleted his tweet and said it was "not my place" to give updates.) Rushdie, 75, suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye, Wylie said Friday evening. He was likely to lose the injured eye.

Earlier Saturday, the man accused of attacking him Friday at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges in what a prosecutor called a “preplanned” crime. An attorney for Hadi Matar entered the plea on his behalf during an arraignment in western New York. The suspect appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, with his hands cuffed in front of him. A judge ordered him held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt told her Matar, 24, took steps to purposely put himself in position to harm Rushdie, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early bearing a fake ID.

The attack was met with shock and outrage from much of the world, along with tributes and praise for the award-winning author who for more than 30 years has faced death threats for The Satanic Verses. Authors, activists, and government officials cited Rushdie's courage and longtime advocacy of free speech despite the risks to his own safety. Writer and longtime friend Ian McEwan called Rushdie “an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world,” and actor-author Kal Penn cited him as a role model “for an entire generation of artists, especially many of us in the South Asian diaspora toward whom he’s shown incredible warmth.” President Joe Biden said Saturday in a statement that he and first lady Jill Biden were “shocked and saddened” by the attack.

(Read more Salman Rushdie stories.)

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