Sir Salman Rushdie said that after years of living in hiding and death threats his life was now “relatively normal” just weeks before he was attacked on stage.
The Indian-born British author, 75, was stabbed or punched 10 to 15 times in the neck and abdomen, according to witnesses at an event in New York state on Friday.
Sir Salman spoke to the German magazine Stern about two weeks ago and called himself an optimist, saying that when it concerns his own life: “I prefer to look ahead.”
The interview, in which the author raised concerns over threats to democracy in the US, was released by the magazine on Saturday, the day after the attack. It is due to appear in the magazine next Thursday.
Sir Salman was forced into hiding for years and received death threats after the publication in 1988 of his book The Satanic Verses, which contains passages that some Muslims consider blasphemous.
A fatwa, or edict, calling for Sir Salman’s death was issued by the Iranian leader a year later.
By 2017, however, the threats against him were “pretty much over”, he told Sky News.
Speaking to Adam Boulton, he said “the world has moved on”.
On Friday, Sir Salman was being introduced to the audience at the Chautauqua Institution before giving a speech when he was attacked on stage.
He was airlifted to hospital where he underwent hours of surgery and was put on a ventilator and may lose an eye, according to his agent.
Sir Salman has severed nerves in an arm and damage to his liver, Andrew Wylie said.
The fatwa against the author was issued by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
Sir Salman noted to Stern that the fatwa, which called on Muslims around the world to kill him for blasphemy, was pronounced long ago.
He went into hiding for nearly a decade, but in recent years has lived relatively openly.
The suspected attacker, named as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from Fairview, New Jersey, was arrested and is now in custody.
Matar had bought a pass for the event. Police say they do not yet know a motive for the attack, but believe the suspect was acting alone.