Salman Rushdie reflects on his assault and recovery in ‘Knife’

Salman Rushdie, the renowned author famed for his literary prowess and tumultuous history with political persecution, unveils his latest work, Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, delving into the horrifying ordeal of a stabbing incident in 2022, per a review.

Rushdie’s memoir offers a poignant narrative of survival and recovery, interspersed with reflections on the nature of violence, reality and the writer’s own mortality.

The memoir opens with a vivid recollection of the harrowing attack that nearly claimed Rushdie’s life during a speaking engagement in Chautauqua, N.Y. The assailant, identified only as a 24-year-old extremist from New Jersey, inflicted severe injuries, including deep stab wounds to Rushdie’s hand, neck and eye, leaving lasting physical and psychological scars.

Rushdie candidly recounts the agonising journey of healing and rehabilitation, detailing the painstaking efforts to regain mobility and functionality after extensive surgery. Through introspective musings, he grapples with the profound impact of trauma, exploring themes of identity, fear and resilience in the face of adversity.

However, while Rushdie’s memoir offers glimpses of insight and introspection, some critics have raised concerns about its overall coherence and literary merit. Becca Rothfeld, writing for The Washington Post, characterises Knife as meandering and trite, lamenting its failure to fully engage with the complexities of the author’s experience.

Rothfeld notes that Rushdie’s narrative often lapses into cliché and pedestrian observations, detracting from the potency of its central themes. Moreover, she critiques the memoir’s occasional forays into polemics, which she deems tangential and disjointed.

Despite these criticisms, Rushdie’s memoir remains a testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. 

Knife serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring power of storytelling to illuminate the darkest corners of human experience and offer glimpses of redemption in the aftermath of tragedy.

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