U.S. media reports say a celebrated author and winner of the world's top literary prizes whose writings generated death threats, Salman Rushdie, was attacked and stabbed at least twice on stage Friday (August 12) before a lecture he was scheduled to give at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York.

Citing State Police, they report that Rushdie was on a ventilator Friday evening and could not speak. 

The suspect reportedly jumped onto the stage and stabbed Rushdie at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen. 

Staff and audience members rushed the suspect and put him on the ground before a state trooper took the attacker into custody.  The suspect was reportedly identified as Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey.  Police are working with the FBI and local authorities to determine the motive.

Authorities are reportedly also working to obtain search warrants for several items found at the scene, including a backpack and electronic devices.

Citing State Police Troop Commander Major Eugene J. Staniszewski, CNN says authorities believe the suspect was alone but are investigating to make sure that was the case.

Rushdie was airlifted from a field adjacent to the venue -- in a rural lake resort about 70 miles south of Buffalo -- to a hospital.

Rushdie was undergoing surgery at a hospital in northwestern Pennsylvania, Erie Police Department Deputy Chief William Marucci told CNN Friday evening.

“The news is not good,” the author’s agent, Andrew Wylie, said in an emailed update Friday evening. He said Mr. Rushdie might lose an eye and his liver had been damaged, according to The New York Times

The New York Times says Ralph Henry Reese, who was onstage with Rushdie to moderate the discussion and received an injury to his face during the attack, was released from a hospital on Friday afternoon.   In an emailed statement, he called Rushdie “one of the great defenders of freedom of speech and freedom of creative expression," then added: “The fact that this attack could occur in the United States is indicative of the threats to writers from many governments and from many individuals and organizations.”

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie (born 19 June 1947) is an Indian-born British-American novelist. His work often combines magical realism with historical fiction and primarily deals with connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, set on the Indian subcontinent.

Rushdie's second novel “Midnight's Children” (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be "the best novel of all winners" on two occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. His fourth novel “The Satanic Verses” (1988) was the subject of controversy, provoking protests from Muslims.

Death threats were made against him, including a fatwa calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in 1989.  In 2007, Rushdie was knighted for his services to literature.  Rushdie's knighthood sparked a scatter of protests across the globe.  In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

It is to be noted that Salman Rushdie spent years in hiding after the leadership of Iran called for his death following the publication of “The Satanic Verses.”  But in recent years, declaring “Oh, I have to live my life,” he re-entered society, regularly appearing in public around New York City without evident security.  Since 2000, Rushdie has reportedly lived in the United States, mostly near Union Square in Lower Manhattan, New York City.