Salman Rushdie Off Ventilator, But Injuries Are 'Life Changing,' Son Says

The renowned author, 75, was attacked and stabbed on stage at a literary festival at New York State's Chautauqua Institution last Friday

Author Salman Rushdie was removed from a ventilator Saturday, but his injuries are "life changing," says his son, Zafar Rushdie.

The renowned author, 75, was attacked and stabbed on stage at a literary festival at New York State's Chautauqua Institution Friday.

In a family statement Sunday, Zafar Rushdie said his father remained in critical condition in the hospital "receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment."

"We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words," says Zafar's statement. "Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humor remains intact."

Rushdie's literary agent Andrew Wylie told the Associated Press that the Satanic Verses author was "on the road to recovery."

Salman Rushdie assaulted
Joshua Goodman/AP

Rushdie was stabbed "at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen," New York State Police said in a news conference, after a man, later allegedly identified by police as 24-year-old Hadi Matar, rushed the lecture stage and attacked him and Ralph Henry Reese, who sustained a minor head injury. Rushdie was airlifted to a nearby hospital.

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New York State Police took Matar into custody after the attack, according to the Associated Press.

Author Carl LeVan described the scene on Twitter, noting that Rushdie "was stabbed multiple times before [the] attacker was subdued by security" and the audience was evacuated.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie. David Levenson/Getty

Although Rushdie has received much acclaim for his work, including a Booker Prize for his 1981 novel Midnight's Children, the Indian-British writer rose to prominence when his 1989 book The Satanic Verses was deemed as blasphemy by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

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The novel, which featured a fictional interpretation of the Prophet Mohammed and the Quran, drew backlash from the Muslim community. Khomeini, who died later in 1989, subsequently issued a fatwā (a ruling on Islamic law) for his assassination, offering a bounty for whoever kills him.

Rushdie went into hiding for nearly a decade until the Iranian government said in 1998 that it would no longer enforce the fatwā, although it remained active.

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