Sir Salman Rushdie says he feels “lucky” and “grateful” in his first interview since being stabbed multiple times during a literary event in New York last summer.
The 75-year-old author said while he was physically recovering from the “colossal attack” relatively well, he had been left with mental scars, including difficulties writing.
Rushdie told The New Yorker he had been touched by people’s reaction to the attack: “It’s very nice that everybody was so moved by this, you know? I had never thought about how people would react if I was assassinated, or almost assassinated.
“I’m lucky. What I really want to say is that my main overwhelming feeling is gratitude.”
Stabbed around 12 times during the brutal attack which took place moments before he was due to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state last August, he has been left with life-changing injuries, including the loss of his sight in one eye, and limited feeling in his left hand.
Following months of recovery, Rushdie said he is “not so bad” considering the severity of the incident.
“The big injuries are healed, essentially. I have feeling in my thumb and index finger and in the bottom half of the palm. I’m doing a lot of hand therapy, and I’m told that I’m doing very well.”
No longer able to type “very well” due to the lack of feeling in the fingertips of his injured hand, he also said he was suffering from a mental block post-attack, including frightening dreams, which he said are now diminishing.
“There is such a thing as PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), you know. I’ve found it very, very difficult to write.
“I sit down to write, and nothing happens. I write, but it’s a combination of blankness and junk, stuff that I write and that I delete the next day. I’m not out of that forest yet, really.
“I’ve simply never allowed myself to use the phrase ‘writer’s block’. Everybody has a moment when there’s nothing in your head. And you think: ‘Oh, well, there’s never going to be anything’.
“One of the things about being 75 and having written 21 books is that you know that, if you keep at it, something will come.”
In 1989, Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Sir Salman’s death following the publication of his book The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous.
While he lived in exile for years following the fatwa, he had said in an interview just weeks before the attack that his life had returned to being relatively normal.
His latest interview also contained a photo of the author showing scars to his face, and a darkened lens to one side of his glasses to obscure his damaged eye.
“I’ve always tried very hard not to adopt the role of a victim,” Rushdie said. “Then you’re just sitting there saying, ‘Somebody stuck a knife in me! Poor me’… Which I do sometimes think,” jokingly adding, “It hurts”.
The Booker Prize-winning author also praised his sons Zafar and Milan and his wife, the American poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths, saying: “She just took over everything, as well as having the emotional burden of my almost being killed.”