New York Police detained Hadi Matar after running on stage unchallenged and stabbing Salman Rushdie multiple times at an event in New York state.
The 24 year old from Fairview, New Jersey attacked the 75 year old author and an interviewer at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state.
Salman Rushdie, who has suffered years of Islamist death threats after writing The Satanic Verses, published in 1988 is on a ventilator and unable to speak, ther is also a posibility that the author may lose one eye.
Mr Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and in the abdomen, authorities said. He was taken to a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania, by helicopter.
His agent said “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
No motive or charges have yet been confirmed by police, who are in the process of obtaining search warrants to examine a backpack and electronic devices found at the centre.
Police told a press conference that staff and audience members had rushed the attacker and took him to the ground, and he was then arrested. A doctor in the audience gave Mr Rushdie first aid.
The interviewer who was with Mr Rushdie, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury and was taken to a local hospital. Mr Reese is the co-founder of a non-profit organisation that provides sanctuary to writers exiled under threat of persecution.
Salman Rushdie, who emerged from hiding catapulted to fame with Midnight’s Children in 1981, which went on to sell over one million copies in the UK alone.
The atheist’s fourth book, published in 1988 – The Satanic Verses – forced him into hiding for nearly 10 years.
The novel sparked outrage among some Muslims, who considered its content to be blasphemous and insulting to a religion or god and was banned in some countries.
Several people were killed in anti-Rushdie riots in India and in Iran the British embassy in the capital, Tehran, was stoned.
In 1991 a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death, while a few months later, an Italian translator was also stabbed and the book’s Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard, was shot – but both survived.
A year after the book’s release, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini called for Mr Rushdie’s execution. He offered a $3m (£2.5m) reward in a fatwa – a legal decree issued by an Islamic religious leader.
The bounty over Mr Rushdie’s head remains active, and although Iran’s government has distanced itself from Khomeini’s decree, a quasi-official Iranian religious foundation added a further $500,000 to the reward in 2012.