Salman Rushdie Shares ‘Weird Thing’ He Did Outside His Knife Attacker's Prison Cell

The decorated author was famously stabbed in upstate New York while preparing to give a lecture on the need for freedom of creative expression.

Salman Rushdie didn’t let his attacker have the last laugh — nor the last dance.

The Booker Prize-winning author was famously stabbed multiple times at an event in Chautauqua, New York, in 2022 and lost the sight in his right eye, but recalled Monday on “The Daily Show” that he not only visited the attacker’s prison, but found himself “dancing” outside the man’s cell.

Rushdie wrote as much in his new memoir, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder.”

“A really interesting part of the book is … when you go back to Chautauqua … where this unfortunate event happened,” host Jon Stewart said to him. “And you go back to revisit the scene of it, but also the jail where they are holding this person that attacked you.”

Rushdie was attacked long after his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” spawned a religious fatwa against him issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran. He was being introduced to give a lecture on the need for freedom of creative expression in Chautauqua when a man rushed the stage and stabbed him in the neck and body.

Rushdie was subsequently hospitalized for six weeks. He lost 40 pounds and vision in one eye.

“It was a last-minute decision,” he told Stewart about visiting the jail. “We were actually on the plane flying up, because I had this desire to go and revisit the scene of the crime and show myself that I was standing up where I fell down. Sort of important to me.”

“But then on the flight up there, I thought, ‘Chautauqua is a really small town and if he is in the county jail, how far is that from the institution?’” Rushdie continued. “And it turned out it was like five minutes’ drive. So I thought, ‘Well, let’s go to the jail!’”

The 76-year-old added that the facility is “a really boring jail,” consisting of nothing but “a little cellblock and a wall with some barbed wire.” Rushdie recalled thinking it “feels good” that his attacker is “in there” while he himself is “out here,” when “a weird thing happened.”

“My feet started dancing,” he told Stewart.

Salman Rushdie was hospitalized for six weeks after the stabbing and lost 40 pounds in recovery.
Salman Rushdie was hospitalized for six weeks after the stabbing and lost 40 pounds in recovery.
Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press

“You were dancing?” the incredulous host replied.

“No, my feet were dancing,” said Rushdie, adding that his wife told him to “stop doing that.”

The trial of his alleged attacker, Hadi Matar, was delayed after a New York judge ruled in January that Matar’s lawyers should be granted time to review Rushdie’s book, which was released this month. Matar is charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault.

Rushdie, who recently sat down with “60 Minutes” for his first TV interview since the attack, added Monday that “people have to stop having such thin skins” and believing “that being offended is sufficient reason for attacking something” — or someone.

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