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Author has dream preview of attack


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BOOKER prize-winning author Sir Salman Rushdie has disclosed he had a dream of being stabbed just days before an attack happened in reality.

The Indian-born British writer, who has had about “half a dozen serious assassination attempts” on his life, was due to talk about free speech before he was attacked in 2022.

Sir Salman was stabbed several times and suffered life-changing injuries, including the loss of his right eye, as he stood on stage to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state.

THE time slip featured in an episode of “The Why Files.”  (Photo: Facebook)
SIR SALMAN RUSHDIE: “I woke up and
was quite shaken.”

(Photo: Elena Ternovaja)

In his first major TV interview since his recovery, the 76-year-old told broadcast journalist and political commentator Anderson Cooper on CBS programme 60 Minutes he dreamed of a man bearing down on him with a spear in an “amphitheatre” days before the event.

“I woke up and was quite shaken,” he said. “I said to my wife, Eliza, ‘You know I don’t want to go’ because of the dream. Then I thought ‘Don’t be silly. It’s a dream’.” Published in 1988, the author’s fourth book, The Satanic Verses, offended many Muslims who considered it blasphemous.

Sir Salman became the target of several death threats, including a fatwa calling for his death issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the then supreme leader of Iran.

Of the attack, Sir Salman added “It felt like something coming out of the distant past and trying to drag me back in time, if you like, back into that distant past, in order to kill me.

“I think he was just slashing. It was the half-minute of intimacy between life and death. I was watching the blood spread and then thinking I was probably dying. It was quite matter of fact.”

One of the surgeons who saved Sir Salman’s life “said to me ‘First you were really unlucky and then you were really lucky.’

‘I said, ‘What’s the lucky part’ He said, ‘Well, the lucky part is that the man who attacked you had no idea how to kill a man with a knife’.” Sir Salman has now written about the event in his new book, Knife Meditations After An Attempted Murder, published by Vintage, a division of Penguin Random House UK.

The author added that he avoided the subject for a time, as it “was the last thing I wanted to do.

“The only thing anyone knew about me was this death threat, but I had to write this to focus on the elephant in the room.

“It then became a book I really wanted to write. Language is a way of breaking open the world. I don’t have any other weapons.” In the book, Sir Salman does not name his alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, then 24, who has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

“I don’t want his name in my book and I don’t want him in my life,” Sir Salman explained.

“We had 27 seconds together (during the attack). I don’t want to give him any more of my time.” Sir Salman spoke recently at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London as part of the Southbank Centre’s Literature and Spoken Word Spring Season.

“I think I’ve surprised myself by how well I am,” he remarked, describing his recovery as “miraculous to some extent.” Talking about his work, the author commented, “I don’t believe in miracles and things like that, but somehow my books always have.” Sir Salman attributed his survival not to divine intervention, but to luck and medical expertise.

“There was a slash right across my neck,” he added, “but he didn’t cut the artery. There were three stab wounds in my torso, but he didn’t hit the heart.” The release of Sir Salman’s memoir has delayed the trial of his alleged assailant. The defendant and his lawyers demanded access to the manuscript and related materials for trial preparation.

Sir Salman’s representatives refused to share the book before publication due to intellectual property rights.

The author, whose full name is Ahmed Salman Rushdie, was knighted by the Queen in 2007 for his services to literature. The honour was controversial, and attracted objections from several nations.

The following year, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

Sir Salman spent over a decade in hiding following the death threats and fatwa. Since 2000, he has lived in the United States.


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