Sir Salman Rushdie suffered “life-changing” injuries when he was stabbed, but has been “able to say a few words” and retains his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour”, his son has said.
The 75-year-old author was airlifted to hospital and underwent hours of surgery following the attack on stage in Chautauqua, New York state, on Friday.
His son Zafar Rushdie said Sir Salam remained in a “critical condition” but was taken off a ventilator on Saturday.
“Though his life-changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty and defiant sense of humour remains intact,” he said in a statement.
Sir Salman was stabbed about 12 times, including in the face and neck, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office said.
One of the wounds in the facial area caused a puncture to Sir Salman’s eye. Another, to the abdomen, caused a puncture of the author’s liver.
There were also stab wounds to the abdomen and chest area.
Full statement from Zafar Rushdie
Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment.
We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.
Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact.
We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.
We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.
Earlier on Sunday, in an update on his condition, his literary agent, Andrew Wylie, confirmed Sir Salman had been taken off the ventilator, saying: “The road to recovery has begun.
“It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction.”
On Saturday, the suspect pleaded not guilty to attempted murder.
Hadi Matar, 24, appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, his hands cuffed in front of him.
Sir Salman, who lives in New York City and became an American citizen in 2016, was due to speak to Henry Reese, from the City of Asylum organisation, a residency programme for writers living in exile under threat of persecution.
They were expected to discuss America’s role as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile and as a home for freedom of creative expression.
He was being introduced at the Chautauqua Institution when a man stormed the stage and began stabbing him.
He fell to the floor as the suspect was pinned down by audience members and staff.
The Satanic Verses
Sir Salman’s book The Satanic Verses was banned in 1988 in a number of countries with large Muslim populations, including Iran, after it was considered by some to contain blasphemous passages.
In 1989, Iran’s then leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Sir Salman’s death.
The author lived in exile for years, but told a German magazine earlier this month he believed his life had returned to being “relatively normal”.