On August 12, renowned author Salman Rushdie was stabbed multiple times while delivering a lecture in western New York.
His most recognizable novel, The Satanic Verses, has surged in popularity in the days since, reaching Number 8 on Amazon’s fiction bestseller list this week, as well as the top spot in Fiction Satire and Humorous Literary Fiction.
The attack on Rushdie galvanized support from those who were already fans of his work, however, it also inspired a new group of readers who discovered him as a result of the incident.
“Hope this book becomes #1 bestseller again just as a big F*** you to religious extremists and sympathizers,” one review states. “I didn’t even know about this book before. So if the idea was to spread the author’s message in modern times, then they succeeded!”
“I just bought this book in response to extremists who try to silence people. You will not win,” says another.
One reviewer took the time to address the attacker.
“Dear Mr. would-be assassin,” it begins, “this book is now back on the bestseller lists. You did that. You tried to silence Salman Rushdie for writing something you found offensive, and now that very work is going to be in more homes, read by more people than ever before.”
“This is what you have accomplished. This is the only thing you have ever accomplished, and the only thing you will ever accomplish,” it continues. “Funny thing, if there had never been a fatwa on Mr. Rushdie in the first place, how many people do you suppose would have ever even heard of this book? Now a whole new generation will read it, all because you didn’t want it to be read by anyone.”
Following the incident, 24-year-old Hadi Matar was quickly arrested and charged with attempted murder. As the New York Post reports, Matar “made social media posts in support of Iran and its Revolutionary Guard, and in support of Shi’a extremism more broadly.”
In 1989, The Satanic Verses was deemed “blasphemous” by the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time, Ayatollah Khomeini, and a fatwa was issued calling for Rushdie’s death.
In the decades since, the author has been the subject of numerous threats, however, last week’s attack marks the deadliest assassination attempt to date.
While Rushdie’s condition has improved, reports say he is likely to lose an eye as a result of the injuries Matar inflicted upon him.
“Though his life-changing injuries are severe,” Rushdie’s son Zafar said, “his usual feisty and defiant sense of humor remains intact.”
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