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Knife summary

Salman Rushdie

Meditations After an Attempted Murder

4.7 (15 ratings)
16 mins
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    On August 12, 2022, the author Salman Rushdie was in upstate New York, in a town called Chautauqua. He was about to give a talk at the Chautauqua Institution about the creation of safe spaces in America for writers from other countries.

    This is a relevant subject for Rushdie because he was born in India and, since the 1988 publication of his book, The Satanic Verses, there has been a threat of assassination looming over his life. The book was regarded as blasphemous in the eyes of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death.

    The subject of safe spaces for writers ended up being somewhat darkly ironic, as well, for Rushdie never gave the talk. While he was sitting on stage, a knife-wielding assailant charged at him. Rushdie stood up, and in the 27 seconds before the man was subdued, the attacker stabbed him repeatedly, leaving the author bleeding on the floor, close to death.

    Altogether, he was stabbed around 15 times. The knife went through his left hand, into his abdomen, into his neck, and into his right eye.

    Oddly enough, there were some peculiar premonitions in the days leading up to the attack. The night before he left for Chautauqua, Rushdie had a terrible dream, where he was in the middle of an arena, being stabbed repeatedly by a gladiator with a javelin.

    Now, as Rushdie lay bleeding on the floor of the auditorium, there was a surreal, delirious detachment to his thoughts. Even though people later told him that he was screaming in pain, he has no memory of this. He does, however, remember feeling sad that he would never see his wife, Eliza, again. Or his two sons. He remembers feeling distraught that people were cutting apart his new Ralph Lauren suit in order to stop the bleeding. He remembers being concerned about his keys and wallet – and embarrassed to be half-naked in front of a crowd.

    Before long, he was placed on a stretcher and carried onto an awaiting helicopter. He was then flown to the nearest trauma center, located in Erie, Pennsylvania. He’d been thinking, in a very matter-of-fact way, that this was it – he was going to die.

    But Rushdie’s family, including his wife Eliza, didn’t know what was happening. She was visiting her family in Maryland when the attack occurred and dropped everything to get to Pennsylvania as soon as possible. She arrived to find that multiple surgeons had tended to wounds on her husband’s eye, chest, neck, and liver. Contrary to some of the early reports, Rushdie was not dead. He was very much alive. And his assailant, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, was being held in Chautauqua County Jail, without bail.

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    What is Knife about?

    Knife (2024) offers an intimate account of Salman Rushdie's harrowing experience of surviving an assassination attempt. It provides a unique insight into the physical, personal, and psychological impact of trauma. It also delves into themes of identity, ideology, and the power of storytelling, making it a profound and moving examination of the human spirit's capacity for resilience and renewal.

    Knife Review

    Knife (2019) by Salman Rushdie is a riveting exploration of conflicting identities and the weight of history. Here's what makes this book stand out:

    • Unraveling a tale of family lineage entwined with political turmoil, it captivates readers with its intricate narrative and deeply complex characters.
    • The book delves into themes of love, betrayal, and redemption, resonating with universal emotions that leave a lasting impact on the reader.
    • Through a blend of mystery, suspense, and magical realism, the story unfolds in a gripping manner, ensuring that boredom is never a concern.

    Who should read Knife?

    • Anyone interested in the intersection of literature, politics, and personal narrative
    • People looking for stories of coping with trauma
    • Fans of revealing memoirs

    About the Author

    Salman Rushdie is a renowned British-Indian novelist celebrated for his innovative narratives. Rushdie gained international acclaim when his seminal work, Midnight's Children, won the Booker Prize in 1981. Since then he has cemented his legacy as one of the most influential voices in contemporary literature. His other works include Shalimar the Clown and the controversial The Satanic Verses.

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    Knife FAQs 

    What is the main message of Knife?

    The main message of Knife revolves around personal identity, destiny, and the power of storytelling.

    How long does it take to read Knife?

    Reading Knife takes varied time, but the Blinkist summary can be grasped in a few minutes.

    Is Knife a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Knife is worth reading for its intricate narrative and philosophical exploration of self and society.

    Who is the author of Knife?

    The author of Knife is Salman Rushdie.

    What to read after Knife?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Knife, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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