Sir Salman Rushdie is on the “road to recovery” following his emergency surgery, his agent has confirmed.
The 75-year-old was airlifted to hospital after being stabbed on stage at an event Chautauqua, New York state, on Friday.
Despite suffering injuries to his arm and abdomen, Andrew Wylie said the author is now recovering, although his injuries remain “severe”.
Mr Wylie said: “He’s off the ventilator, so the road to recovery has begun. "It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction."
British-American writer Aatish Taseer had previously said, in a since-deleted tweet, that the 75-year-old was “off the ventilator and talking (and joking)”, which was then confirmed by the author’s agent Andrew Wylie.
Mr Wylie did warn, however, that Sir Salman faces the loss of one of his eye after being stabbed repeatedly.
In a statement, Sir Salman’s son, Zafar, said his father remains in a “critical condition” but that his “defiant sense of humour remains intact”.
— Zafar Rushdie (@ZafRushdie) August 14, 2022
The man accused of stabbing him pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of attempted murder and assault, in what a prosecutor called a “pre-planned” crime.
A lawyer for Hadi Matar, 24, entered the plea on his behalf during a formal hearing at a court in western New York.
Matar appeared in court wearing a black and white jumpsuit and a white face mask, with his hands cuffed in front of him.
A judge ordered him to be held without bail after district attorney Jason Schmidt told her Matar took steps to purposely put himself in a position to harm Sir Salman, getting an advance pass to the event where the author was speaking and arriving a day early with a fake ID.
“This was a targeted, unprovoked, pre-planned attack on Mr Rushdie,” Mr Schmidt said.
Public defender Nathaniel Barone said the authorities had taken too long to get Matar in front of a judge, while leaving him “hooked up to a bench at the state police barracks”.
“He has that constitutional right of presumed innocence,” Mr Barone added.
Sir Salman was stabbed at least once in the neck and once in the abdomen, according to police, before he was taken to hospital.
Sir Salman’s publisher Penguin Random House said they were “deeply shocked and appalled” by the incident.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend”.
He added: “Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Salman Rushdie has long embodied the struggle for liberty and freedom against those who seek to destroy them.
“This cowardly attack on him yesterday is an attack on those values. The whole Labour Party is praying for his full recovery.”
Sir Salman began his writing career in the early 1970s with two unsuccessful books before Midnight’s Children, about the birth of India, which won the Booker Prize in 1981.
The author lived in hiding for many years in London under a British government protection programme after the fatwa.
In 1998, the Iranian government withdrew its support for the death sentence and Sir Salman gradually returned to public life, even appearing as himself in the 2001 film Bridget Jones’s Diary.
The Index on Censorship, an organisation promoting free expression, said money was raised to boost the reward for Sir Salman’s killing as recently as 2016, underscoring that the fatwa still stands.
He was knighted in 2008 and earlier this year was made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours.