Salman Rushdie, the acclaimed novelist and free speech advocate who was viciously attacked at a public event last year, will write a memoir about the experience, his publisher, Penguin Random House, announced Wednesday.
“Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder” will be published on April 16, the publisher said.
“This was a necessary book for me to write: a way to take charge of what happened, and to answer violence with art,” Rushdie said in a statement.
Rushdie was attacked onstage at the Chautauqua Institution, a summer arts community in New York, where he was scheduled to speak about the United States as a safe haven for exiled writers. As the event was about to begin, a 24-year-old man jumped onstage and stabbed Rushdie repeatedly in the face and the abdomen before members of the audience pulled the assailant away. Rushdie was gravely injured, placed temporarily on a ventilator and left blind in his right eye.
The attacker, Hadi Matar, a resident of New Jersey, has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.
Rushdie has lived much of his life under the threat of violence. After the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses” — which includes a fictionalized account of the life of the Prophet Muhammad — the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death, and put a bounty on his head of $2.5 million.
Rushdie went into hiding for nearly a decade, an experience he recounted in a previous memoir, “Joseph Anton,” which was published in 2012. The title is the alias he used during the period, “Joseph Anton,” a homage to the writers Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov.
The fatwa was rescinded in 1998, and Rushdie became an active public figure in New York and a proponent of free speech, serving for a time as president of PEN America, an organization devoted to freedom of expression. And he continued to write.
At first, Rushdie balked at the thought of writing about the stabbing, he said in an interview with The New Yorker, as if “the attack demanded that I should write about the attack.” But he warmed to the idea, envisioning it as a counterpart to “Joseph Anton,” albeit with a very different perspective. “I think when somebody sticks a knife into you, that’s a first-person story,” Rushdie said. “That’s an ‘I’ story.”
Rushdie is the author of 15 novels, most recently “Victory City,” which was published in February. Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House, will publish “Knife” in the U.S. Its publication was first reported by The Associated Press.
“‘Knife’ is a searing book, and a reminder of the power of words to make sense of the unthinkable,” Nihar Malaviya, the chief executive of Penguin Random House, wrote in a statement. “We are honored to publish it, and amazed at Salman’s determination to tell his story, and to return to the work he loves.”