The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie has been taken off a ventilator and is “on the road to recovery” his literary agent said Sunday, two days after he was stabbed onstage by a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, whose father has reportedly refused to speak to anyone about the attack or leave his home in Lebanon.
Zafar Rushdie, the author’s son, said in a statement Sunday morning that his father was taken off the ventilator and was able to speak, though he remains in critical condition at the hospital.
Despite his severe and “life changing” injuries, Rushdie’s “feisty and defiant sense of humor” remains intact, his son said.
Rushdie’s literary agent Andrew Wylie told the New York Times that the controversial author’s condition is “heading in the right direction,” though he noted Rushdie’s injuries are “severe” (he previously told outlets that Rushdie would likely lose an eye).
Hadi Matar, the 24-year-old man from New Jersey who was charged with Rushdie’s stabbing, had reportedly been in direct contact on social media with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, anonymous intelligence sources told Vice News, though there’s no evidence any officials in Iran were involved in his alleged attack on Rushdie.
Matar’s father, who lives in southern Lebanon, has reportedly locked himself inside his home and is refusing to speak to anyone about the charges against his son or the stabbing, Yaroun town mayor Ali Tehfe told Reuters.
The Revolutionary Guard is a military branch meant to protect the country’s Islamic republic political system. It was founded after the Iranian Revolution and is one of the most powerful and influential institutions in Iranian society. In 2019, former President Trump classified the group as a foreign terrorist organization.
Rushdie was stabbed Friday during a talk about exiled writers in the U.S. in Chautauqua, N.Y. The author is one of the most controversial figures in the literary world after his 1988 book, The Satanic Verses, prompted Iranian officials to call for his death. The novel, which is in part inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was called blasphemous by religious leaders, and Rushdie spent years in hiding. With Rushdie’s stabbing, at least five people involved in publishing international editions of The Satanic Verses have been violently attacked, including two translators.