The stunning stabbing attack on author Salman Rushdie has sparked interest in his work – most notably The Satanic Verses, which has kept him living under threat of death for years.
Various 1988 editions of the book – deemed blasphemous by Iranian leaders, who subsequently issued a religious decree requiring his death – occupied the top three spots on Amazon’s “Movers & Shakers” list on Saturday.
That list, which shows books whose sales have increased the most, had another Rushdie opus, “Midnight’s Children,” which oscillated between fourth and fifth place.
Bookstores reported keen interest in the Indian-born author, some from readers too young to remember the original outrage he stirred in much of the Muslim world.
The stabbing attack on 75-year-old Rushdie, which was internationally convicted, took place on Friday as the author was preparing to speak at a literary event in the small town of Chautauqua, in western New York.
Police and witnesses said 24-year-old Hadi Matar, of Fairfield, New Jersey, was wrestled to the ground as he continued his attack, leaving Rushdie in serious condition. Authorities have yet to describe Matar’s background or say what may have motivated him.
At the sprawling Strand Bookstore, New York’s largest and arguably most famous bookstore, the attack prompted a surge in interest and sales of new and used Rushdie volumes.
“We definitely had people looking for everything he wrote,” said floor manager Katie Silvernail.
“Some of our younger employees had never heard of him. So it was interesting to have conversations with our younger staff yesterday about who he was and the impact he had on the literary world.”
She added, “Honestly, I feel like people came here just yesterday because they wanted to talk about how they felt about what happened.”
On Twitter, some users urged people to buy Rushdie’s books as a show of solidarity.
The Satanic Verses tells the surrealistic story of two Indian actors whose hijacked plane explodes over the English Channel. Somehow they make it safely to an English beach, one now in the guise of an archangel, the other as a devil.
Interestingly, Rushdie gave the prostitutes in the story the names of the Prophet Mohammed’s wives.
He also created the character of a prophet named Mahound who, under Lucifer’s influence, seems to say that one can pray to gods other than Allah – before realizing his mistake.
Rushdie, who has both British and American citizenship, remained in hospital in serious condition on Saturday after hours of surgery.
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