The interviewer who was sitting on stage next to Sir Salman Rushdie when he was brutally attacked recounted the shocking moment.
Henry Reese was preparing to present an argument with the novelist when a knife-wielding assailant walked onto the stage and inflicted “life-changing” injuries on him.
The 75-year-old man was airlifted to hospital for surgery, where he remains recovering and is likely to lose an eye.
Reese, also 75, suffered facial injuries in the chaos at the Chautauqua Institution in New York on Friday.
Asked how he was doing after the incident, Mr Reese told the BBC: “I’m fine, everything’s fine, I’m pretty good.”
“I think our concern is for Salman, and I say this for himself, but also for what he means to the world.
Asked what the incident meant to the importance of Sir Salman’s values, Mr Reese added: “There could be nothing more vivid in the embodiment of our values.”
“Our mission is to protect writers who are in sanctuary and to see Salman Rushdie assaulted for his life is unimaginable… it’s hard to describe what it’s like to see that happen in front of you.”
Reese said her ambition is to one day finish the conversation they planned to have at the event on the subject of literary freedom in the United States.
He continued: ‘That would be my ideal to do that, and see that happen and not have any impediment to doing what we set out to do.
‘Both show that these values will be defended and that they can be defended’.
Sir Salman’s family say he has retained his “usual feisty and defiant sense of humour” despite suffering horrific injuries, including a damaged liver and severed nerves in one arm.
The Booker Prize winner is now breathing without the help of a fan.
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old who was arrested at the scene, has pleaded not guilty through his lawyer to charges stemming from the assault and is due to appear in US court on Friday.
Sir Salman has endured decades of death threats and spent several years in hiding after the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses.
Inspired in part by the life of Muhammad, it was denounced as blasphemy by the Iranian ayatollah and a fatwa was issued instructing his followers to assassinate the writer.
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