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Book Review :: Knife by Salman Rushdie

Review by Kevin Brown

Most people know Salman Rushdie only for the publication of The Satanic Verses and the fatwa issued against his life, much to his regret. He and others thought he had moved on from that time in his life. However, on August 12, 2022, a man attacked him when he was on stage to speak at the Chautauqua Institution, leading Rushdie to lose sight in one eye and much of the mobility in one hand in addition to wounds in his neck and stomach. Medical specialists and his family thought he would die.

This memoir is the account of the attack, as Rushdie recounts that day, but it is much more about the power of love and art. Through his long recovery, Rushdie repeatedly returns to those two aspects of his life to help him through the roughest periods. As he has done his entire career, he celebrates freedom of speech that he believes all writers and individuals possess, but he also speaks much more openly of the love of his wife, Eliza, and his family, as well as the writers and broader literary community that rallied to his support.

In a time where extremism continues to be on the rise, this memoir celebrates that which we need most to combat it: the love of those around us and the art we all can create and celebrate.

Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder by Salman Rushdie. Random House, 2024.

Reviewer bio: Kevin Brown has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. Twitter @kevinbrownwrite

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