Salman Rushdie is able to speak and retains his “feisty and defiant” sense of humor, his family said in a statement Sunday — as his ex-wife Padma Lakshmi expressed relief that the author was “pulling through” after being stabbed multiple times at a lecture in upstate New York.
The famed writer’s son confirmed reports that his father was off a ventilator after the Friday attack, and said that while he appears in good spirits, he remains in critical condition with “life changing injuries.”
“My father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment,” Zafar Rushdie wrote in a statement. “We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.”
“Thought his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact,” he continued.
Lakshmi, who was married to the the 75-year-old “Satanic Verses” author from 2004 to 2007, said she was “relieved” that he was on the mend after Friday’s “nightmare” in Chautauqua.
“Worried and wordless, can finally exhale. Now hoping for swift healing,” Lakshmi, the host of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” wrote on Twitter.
Rushdie’s son thanked the audience members at the lecture who “bravely leapt to his defenses” as well as the first responders and the doctors now caring for him.
The author’s agent, Andrew Wylie, echoed that sentiment when telling the New York Times in a text on Sunday, “The road to recovery has begun.
“It will be long; the injuries are severe, but his condition is headed in the right direction,” he said.
Wylie, who previously said Rushdie would likely lose an eye, did not return The Post’s request for comment Sunday.
The author also suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in his arm, the agent said.
During a speech in Chautauqua on Sunday, Gov. Kathy Hochul emphasized protecting free speech and free expression.
“Mr. Rushdie spent more than a decade of his life in hiding and finally said, ‘No more. I’m coming out. I’m coming out of the shadows. I will not be followed by fear or a threat.’ And to those of us who go about our daily lives, if that’s not an inspiration, I don’t know what is. That inspires me,” she said.
“I will use every tool at my disposal, including my voice, to call out this radicalization that’s going on,” the governor said.
Alleged attacker Hadi Matar, 24, pleaded not guilty to attempted-murder and assault charges for the public attack at the Chautauqua Institution, a nonprofit education and retreat center.
Prosecutors said Matar had preplanned the stabbing, getting an advance pass to Rushdie’s lecture with a fake ID.
Matar of Fairview, NJ, harbored sympathies toward Iran, law-enforcement sources told The Post.
In 1989, the hardline leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling for the British-Indian writer‘s death after the publication of his novel, “The Satanic Verses.” Khomeini died later that year, but Rushdie remained in hiding for about the next decade, until Iran’s government denounced the death sentence. Still, the fatwa was never rescinded.
Additional reporting by Steven Vago