Salman Rushdie’s novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ is climbing the bestseller charts after he was seriously injured in a knife attack in western New York last week.
“The Satanic Verses”, which provoked an intense reaction from much of the Muslim world when it was published in 1988, rose to number eight on Amazon’s list of best-selling fiction books by the week.
The novel did not appear to have ranked among Amazon’s 100 best-selling fiction books before Rushdie was attacked during a conference at the Chautauqua Institution, according to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
The out-of-print paperback edition of “The Satanic Verses” was the No. 2 best-selling book on Amazon’s “Contemporary Fiction and Literature” chart Wednesday afternoon. The audiobook version ranked 14th on the tech giant’s Audible platform.
The surge in sales appears to be due, at least in part, to readers and consumers wanting to show solidarity with Rushdie, who has been the target of death threats for decades – including a fatwa, or edict, from the ‘Iran.
“Bought in solidarity with Mr. Rushdie,” wrote a verified reviewer on Amazon last Friday. “No one should be physically assaulted for the words they write.”
Random House, the publisher of “The Satanic Verses” and several other literary works by Rushdie, did not immediately respond to a request for specific sales figures.
Police have identified the assailant as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey. Matar was charged with attempted second degree murder for the attack on Rushdie as well as second degree assault for injuring the speaking event moderator.
Authorities have not disclosed the motive for the attack. New York State Police said the FBI and the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office are assisting in the investigation.
Amazon wasn’t the only retailer to see renewed interest in “The Satanic Verses.”
The paperback edition of the novel was temporarily out of stock Wednesday on the Barnes & Noble websites and Bookshop.org, a marketplace focused on independent booksellers.
The Barnes & Noble website called “The Satanic Verses” a bestseller, although it did not appear on the channel’s online sales chart Wednesday afternoon.
Powell’s Books, a popular chain in Oregon, showed Rushdie’s 1981 novel “Midnight’s Children” was the No. 1 bestseller on the store’s website as of Wednesday afternoon, between “The Stars Did Wander Darkling” by Colin Meloy and the late “bell hooks”. All About Love: New Visions.”
“The Satanic Verses” is a work of magical realism and historical allegory centered in part on the Islamic prophet Muhammad. At the end of the 1980s, the book attracted the wrath of Muslims, who considered it blasphemous.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini has issued a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie and his publishers. Rushdie was the target of several failed assassination attempts and he was forced into hiding under the protection of the British government.
Rushdie later recounted the long and harrowing ordeal in a memoir, “Joseph Anton”, published in 2012. The title comes from the pseudonym he used while living underground.
Rushdie is “on the road to recovery,” his agent confirmed on Sunday. The agent, Andrew Wylie, told The Associated Press that although “Rushdie’s condition is heading in the right direction”, his recovery would be long.