Readers are propelling The Satanic Verses and other books by Salman Rushdie to the top of bestseller lists decades after they were published, in the wake of a stabbing attack Friday that ignited renewed interest in his work.
The paperback edition of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses is the top-selling book in Amazon’s contemporary literature and fiction chart, the second-best seller in censorship and politics and the 18th best-selling book on the U.S. platform overall, according to Amazon’s best seller list.
The incident has also pushed the book up the charts in other countries, with a paperback version of The Satanic Verses respectively ranking as the 16th, 48th and 50th best selling books on platforms serving Canada, Australia and the U.K.
Interest is also driving other formats and versions of the novel up the U.S. charts, with the digital version ranking 23rd in Amazon’s Kindle store for ebooks—it is the platform’s best-selling book in censorship and politics, literary satire fiction and psychological literary fiction—and a Spanish language digital copy occupies the top-selling slot for literature and fiction in Spanish and the second-best selling position for Spanish language fiction.
For audiobooks, The Satanic Verses is the fifth-best seller in Amazon’s Audible store.
There has also been a surge of interest in other Rushdie books, including Joseph Anton, his memoir detailing life underground following the publication of The Satanic Verses, which dominates the ‘religious intolerance and persecution’ chart with audiobook, ebook, hardcover and paperback respectively holding the first, second, fourth and fifth best-selling positions (a Kindle edition trails in 14th place).
Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which was published before The Satanic Verses, also climbed, becoming the 212nd best-selling book on the platform and the 2nd best-selling book in asian myth and legend (the Kindle edition is the 3rd best-selling).
What To Watch For
Other charts. Events like the attack on Rushdie can reinvigorate interest in books and drive them up various bestseller lists, particularly those where books are censored over content. Rushdie’s books have not yet appeared on Amazon’s Charts, the platform’s more holistic list of what is sold and read on the platform, as this is updated weekly and will not have captured the new interest (the placements referenced in this story are based on Amazon’s hourly-updated best seller lists). Interest may also be reflected in other, slower-to-publish charts counting book sales.
The publication of Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses in 1988 ignited a firestorm of controversy in parts of the Islamic world, where some thought it blasphemous and offensive. Iran’s former leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, a religious edict, calling for the execution of Rushdie and others involved in the book’s publication and put a bounty of $3 million on Rushdie’s head. Rushdie was forced into hiding for nearly a decade and numerous other people involved with the book have also been attacked, some of whom were killed.
Rushdie was attacked before an expected speaking appearance on Friday and was rushed to hospital where he remains in critical condition. His son, Zafar Rushdie, described his father’s injuries as “life-changing” but said he is “heading in the right direction.” The suspected assailant, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, has been charged with attempted murder and assault. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Iran denies any responsibility for the attack and said Rushdie and his supporters are to blame. Henry Reese, who was hosting the event Rushdie was attacked at and sustained minor injuries himself, urged people to “all go out and buy a book by Salman Rushdie this week and read it” to show support for free expression.