For a guy with a bounty on his head, Salman Rushdie has always loved to party. So Page Six was absolutely thrilled this week to see the author back to doing what he does best (well, second best, perhaps, after the writing): regaling smoking-hot women and generally rolling out his whole “international debonair genius” thing on the New York nightlife circuit. Just a year after handily seeing off a would-be assassin, Rushdie was at the Library Lions gala on Monday at the famed 42nd Street home of the New York Public Library, where he told us he’s feeling well after the attack. “I’m OK, thank you,” Rushie, who was there with his wife, the poet Rachel Eliza Griffiths, told us. “I’m good.”
The “Midnight’s Children” writer told Page Six he’d come out to fête his pal, dancer and author Bill T. Jones, who was one of the five people being awarded the library’s highest honor, the Library Lions medal. “He’s a great friend. We came out to support him and all these other great people,” he said. Rushdie looked flier than an air ambulance, wearing his own Lions medal and a pair of glasses with a single blacked-out lens over his awesome knife scar, lending kind of a Bond-villain-meets-Roy-Orbison-in-Monte-Carlo air to his otherwise understatedly stylish look. “I’m a Lion,” he added, “I’m an old Lion. I looked on the back of this medal and it said 2008 — 15 years ago. It feels like yesterday.”
But he wouldn’t spill about his upcoming memoir, “Knife.” “It comes out in April,” he said, “I’ll tell you more in April!”
On August 12 last year Rushdie was stabbed several times just before he was set to give a public lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York. He was badly injured, with serious damage to his liver and his right eye. A fatwah was put on Rushdie after the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses” in 1988.
Also receiving the award were cookbook megastar Ina Garten, “Kite Runner” author Khaled Hosseini, “The Last Million” author David Nasaw and filmmaker Steven Spielberg. (Page Six overheard one well-read wag say of Spielberg’s honor: “Have they run out of authors to give it to?”)
Others on the scene included Governor Kathy Hochul, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Steve Martin, Maggie Gyllenhaal, the New Yorker’s David Remnick, NYPL president Anthony Marx, Meryll and James Tisch, Lauren and Andres Santa Domingo, David Zaslav, Vogue’s Elisa Taylor, publicist Peggy Siegel, and others.
The event raises money for the vast array of programs and services that the NYPL serves in New York. Garten told us she’s a life-long library fanatic and has lately been hitting the stacks at her local library in East Hampton while she’s been working on her memoir, her first non-cook-book tome. “I use it to put things in context,” the “Barefoot Contessa” icon told us, “I was talking about food in the 70s when I got into the food business, so I was able to do a lot of research with newspaper to remind myself what other specialty food stores there were. So it’s wonderful.”
But when we asked if writing more than a dozen cookbooks has made it easy to write a memoir, she told us “No!” with a laugh.
Meanwhile, Sen. Schumer got the night’s big laugh from the learned crowd. He said he’d recently met Jay Z at an event for the city’s other great library, Brooklyn Public Library. “I told Jay Z that even though our lives took us in very different directions when we were both poor kids growing in Brooklyn, but we do have something in common. As the Senate majority leader, let’s just say: I’ve got 99 problems. Most of them Republicans.”
Implications of Rushdie’s Return to Public Life
Rushdie’s return to the limelight is a sign that he is recovering well from the attack last year. He is also showing that he is not afraid to speak out against extremism, as evidenced by his upcoming memoir, “Knife.”
Rushdie’s presence at the Library Lions gala is also a boost for the New York Public Library, which has been struggling in recent years. The library’s annual fundraisers are a major source of revenue, and Rushdie’s star power is sure to attract more donors.
Overall, Rushdie’s return to public life is