Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses reached No. 1 in contemporary fiction on Amazon’s best-sellers list on Saturday, in the wake of the stabbing attack on the author the day before.
Rushdie’s novel was published in 1988, and in 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader, issued a fatwa calling for the Indian-born writer to be killed. The novel included what Khomeini considered to be a blasphemous depiction of the prophet Muhammad. An Iranian religious foundation issued a reward of over $3 million for anyone who would kill the author.
Rushdie went into hiding for many years afterward; later, he required protection when he went out in public. In recent years he has been living more openly.
On Friday, Rushdie, 75, was preparing to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York when a man, identified by law enforcement as Hadi Matar, rushed on stage and stabbed the author repeatedly in the neck and abdomen.
Rushdie was transported to a hospital via helicopter and underwent surgery. He is currently on a ventilator and unable to speak, according to recent reports.
“The news is not good,” his agent, Andrew Wylie, told the New York Times. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
Matar, a 24-year-old living in New Jersey, was charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree on Saturday.
“The individual responsible for the attack yesterday, Hadi Matar, has now been formally charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree,” Chautauqua County district attorney Jason Schmidt said Saturday, according to Reuters.
Law enforcement is looking into whether the attack was premeditated to determine if any other charges should be applied, according to the outlet.
The motive of the attack is not yet known. A review of Matar’s social-media accounts showed that the suspect “is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGS) causes,” according to NBC News New York, although there are no definitive links between the suspect and the group.