“This must be what climbing Mount Everest feels like!” said one party guest trying to reach the bar at AIR MAIL’s book party for Salman Rushdie, in honor of his new memoir, Knife, publishing next week. On Thursday evening, Manhattan’s Waverly Inn was packed with friends and fans of Rushdie’s, from actors Tony Danza and Rupert Friend to fellow novelists Lisa Taddeo, Marlon James, Sloane Crosley, Gary Shteyngart, and Bruce Wagner.

Considering the subject of Rushdie’s new book—his recovery after being violently stabbed at an event in August 2022, nearly 25 years after Iran’s fatwa against him had been temporarily lifted—security guards were present. (Not imposing, Jason Statham–looking men, but rather a discreet security team brought in for the night, whose members looked more like jacked party guests than they did former N.Y.P.D. counterterrorism cops.)

The first guest to greet Rushdie was the writer Gay Talese, who wore a forest-green fedora for the occasion. The writer and former French Vogue editor Joan Juliet Buck and the Grove Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin mingled with the poet and journalist James Fenton, the artist (and Lou Reed’s widow) Laurie Anderson, the writer Antonia Hitchens, the journalists Molly Jong-Fast and Shawn McCreesh, and AIR MAIL regulars Dana Brown, Lili Anolik, William D. Cohan, George Hahn, Sam Kashner, and Michael Hainey. The literary agent Andrew Wylie and the photographer Jonathan Becker stood near the entrance smoking cigars, looking like two henchmen outside an Italian men’s social club.

The evening’s rain didn’t stop guests from lingering outside the Waverly Inn as things were wrapping up. When a journalist covering the party approached the critic James Wolcott, who was huddled under an umbrella with AIR MAIL editor Elena Clavarino, he simply replied, “Hell no!”

Jensen Davis is a Senior Editor at AIR MAIL