Salman Rushdie Suffered "Life Changing Injuries" in Attack and Has Been Able to Talk to Family, Son Says

Salman Rushdie's son Zafar Rushdie has given a health update about his dad days after the author was hospitalized for injuries sustained in an onstage attack.

By Corinne Heller Aug 14, 2022 5:18 PMTags
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Salman Rushdie is on the road to recovery after suffered "life-changing injuries" in an attack last week.

His son Zafar Rushdie provided a health update about his dad in a statement released on behalf of his family on Twitter on Aug. 14, two days after the 75-year-old was stabbed onstage at a speaking event in upstate New York.

"My father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment," the statement said. "We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words. Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact."

Zafar continued, "We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world. We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time."

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Zafar, 42 and a London-based PR agent, is Salman's son from his first marriage to Clarissa Luard. The author is also a father to 23-year-old son Milan Rushdie, whose mother is Salman's third ex-wife Elizabeth West. He was also previously married to Marianne Wiggins and Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi. The two divorced in 2007.

"Relieved @SalmanRushdie is pulling through after Friday's nightmare," Padma tweeted on Aug. 14. "Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing."

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The attack, which took place at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY, left Salman with about 12 stab wounds in areas such as his face, neck, abdomen and chest, a district attorney's office spokesperson told NBC News.

On Aug. 14, Salman's agent told E! News that the author's "road to recovery has begun," adding, "It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction."

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Salman was temporarily put on a ventilator while in the hospital, according to the agent, who also told The New York Times shortly after the attack that "Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged."

The stabbing suspect, New Jersey man Hadi Matar, has since been arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Police are investigating the motive for the attack, which took place more than 30 years after Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a "fatwa" on Salman, calling on Muslims around the world to kill the author over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which the supreme leader condemned as blasphemous. The author lived in hiding for several years after the religious edict was issued. Iran's government officially maintained it after the Ayatollah's death until 1998.

A preliminary law enforcement review of the stabbing suspect's social media accounts showed he is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.

(E! and NBC News are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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