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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Benjamin Lee

Salman Rushdie says he has ‘crazy dreams’ since stabbing attack

‘I’m more engaged with the business of, you know, getting on with it’ … Salman Rushdie in July.
‘I’m more engaged with the business of, you know, getting on with it’ … Salman Rushdie in July. Photograph: Jordan Pettitt/PA

Salman Rushdie has spoken about the “crazy dreams” he has experienced since being attacked in New York.

The 76-year-old writer spoke to the BBC about the incident, which saw him stabbed as he prepared to give a lecture, and his physical health. “I have a very good therapist who has a lot of work to do,” he said. “I have crazy dreams.”

He said he was physically “more or less OK” since the incident in August 2022. Rushdie spent six weeks in hospital after the attack which left him without sight in one eye. He also suffered injuries to his hand which has made typing difficult.

The suspect, Hadi Matar, has been charged with attempted murder and is currently being held after pleading not guilty.

“If he changes his plea to guilty then actually there’s not a trial, there’s just a sentencing, and it may well be that then my presence isn’t required,” he said. “I’m in two minds about it. There’s one bit of me that actually wants to go and stand in the court and look at him and there’s another bit of me that just can’t be bothered. I don’t have a very high opinion of him. And I think what is important to me now is that you’re able to find life continuing. I’m more engaged with the business of, you know, getting on with it.”

He also said that he still employs security now in America on certain occasions. At the time of the attack, he was living without round-the-clock security after a fatwa was issued by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988, which put him into hiding for a decade. “Writers don’t have much power. We don’t have armies,” he said. “What we have is the ability to write about the world, if we’re any good, that might endure.”

In June, Rushdie revealed that he is writing a book about what happened to him. “It will be a relatively short book, a couple of hundred pages,” he said at the Hay literary festival. “It’s not the easiest book in the world to write but it’s something I need to get past in order to do anything else. I can’t really start writing a novel that’s got nothing to do with this … So I just have to deal with it.”

In the BBC interview, Rushdie referred to a “colossal elephant in the room” that needs to be dealt with before anything else is taken seriously.

Rushdie’s last novel, Victory City, released in February, was finished before the attack and was commemorated with a virtual launch after it was announced that he would not be promoting it in public.

He was also asked about his thoughts on the author Milan Kundera, who died this week. “I’ve been thinking about him,” he said. “[Milan Kundera] talks about laughter as being the way to deal with atrocity. Of course, in his case, the atrocity he’s thinking of is communism and so on. But I think it’s not bad advice.”

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