Rachel Eliza Griffiths Recalls Seeing Husband Salman Rushdie After 2022 Attack: ‘He Wasn’t Moving’

Rushdie, who was stabbed multiple times while speaking at a 2022 literary conference, details the incident in his new book ‘Knife’

<p>Dave Kotinsky/Getty</p> Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Salman Rushdie

Dave Kotinsky/Getty

Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie and his wife, poet and novelist Rachel Eliza Griffiths, are speaking out about the stabbing that almost took Rushdie’s life.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper for 60 Minutes, the couple discussed the aftermath of the horrific Aug. 12, 2022 attack, which occurred when Rushdie, 76, was speaking at a literary festival in Chautauqua, N.Y. The acclaimed author was stabbed multiple times by Hadi Matar, which resulted in Rushdie losing sight in his right eye, as well as movement in one of his hands.

Griffiths told Cooper about the moment she saw Rushdie once he came out of surgery.

<p>Kristina Bumphrey/Variety/Getty </p> Salman Rushdie and Rachel Eliza Griffiths in 2023

Kristina Bumphrey/Variety/Getty

Salman Rushdie and Rachel Eliza Griffiths in 2023

“He wasn’t moving and he was just laid out,” she recalled. “He was a different color. He was cold. I mean, his face was stapled — just staples, holding his face together.”

Since Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak at the time, the couple had to communicate in a different way.

Related: In New Memoir Knife, Salman Rushdie Reflects on Being Attacked in 2022: ‘What Do I Imagine I Could Have Done?’

“Someone from the staff said that we would use this system of wiggling the toes to communicate,” Griffiths said. “I think I said, ‘Salman, it’s Eliza, can you hear me?' And there was a wiggle. And [I] asked him, ‘Do you know where you are?’ And [his toe] wiggled. And it was very basic simple questions.”

<p>Kai Pfaffenbach/Pool/AFP/Getty</p> Salman Rushdie in 2023

Kai Pfaffenbach/Pool/AFP/Getty

Salman Rushdie in 2023

Rushdie details the attack and its aftermath in his new book Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, out now from Random House. While speaking with Cooper, the author revealed that he had had a dream about being attacked just two days before the incident.

“I kind of had a premonition,” Rushdie said. “I had a dream of being attacked in an amphitheater. It was a kind of Roman Empire dream, as if I was in the Colosseum, and it was just somebody with a spear stabbing downwards, and I was rolling around on the floor, trying to get away from him.”

Related: Salman Rushdie Stabbing Witness Describes Horrific Scene from Onstage Attack: 'There Was a Loud Roar'

Rushdie, who said that he didn’t realize his assailant had a knife until he “saw blood coming out," noted that he was originally reluctant to pen his memoir. Prior to the 2022 attack, the author was in hiding from 1989 to 1998, after Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, which called for Rushdie's assassination. Khomeini objected to Rushdie's portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses.

<p>Random House </p> 'Knife' by Salman Rushdie

Random House

'Knife' by Salman Rushdie

“It was the last thing I wanted to do,” Rushdie said. “It was very difficult for me, after The Satanic Verses was published, that the only thing anybody knew about me was this death threat."

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"But it became clear to me that I couldn't write anything else," the author continued. "I had to write this first…something changed in my head and it then became a book I really very much wanted to write.”

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