“I just think it’s not a good look. One of the ways I’ve dealt with this whole thing is to look forward and not backwards. What happens tomorrow is more important than what happened yesterday.”
The interview came out on the eve of the publication of Rushdie’s new novel, Victory City, which he completed a month before he was attacked.
Featuring a protagonist who lives to be 247, Victory is a characteristically surreal and exuberant narrative about an imagined ancient poem that has received highly favourable reviews, with The Washington Post’s Ron Charles writing that “Rushdie’s magical style unfurls wonders”.
Rushdie had been silent for months on social media, but now tweets occasionally and even responds to insults. When a tweeter last week told him he was living a “disgraceful life” Rushdie answered, “Oh, another fan! So pleased”.
During his interview, he noted ruefully that sales for his book had soared after the stabbing, as if he were more popular when in danger.
“Now that I’ve almost died, everybody loves me,” he said.
On Monday, he tweeted a picture of himself, staring directly into the camera lens – his face thinner than in photos from before the stabbing, his right eye covered by a dark lens in his glasses frame.
Rushdie has written that he initially had difficulty writing fiction after the fatwa, and he is having a hard time now, saying that he will sit down to work and “nothing happens,” just a “combination of blankness and junk”.
One project he may attempt: a follow-up to his 2012 memoir Joseph Anton, which he wrote in the third person.
“This doesn’t feel third-person-ish to me,” Rushdie said of a possible sequel. “I think when somebody sticks a knife into you, that’s a first-person story. That’s an ‘I’ story.”
Get a note directly from our foreign correspondents on what’s making headlines around the world. Sign up for the weekly What in the World newsletter here.