Death of Bed 12

Kanafani, Ghassan

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin
  • Date of entry: Jun-24-2003


In response to hearing the dehumanizing proclamation that "bed number 12 has died," the narrator attempts to restore dignity to the life of a fellow patient by placing him, his illness and his death into a fictive framework. Having only very few clues to work with, the narrator eventually discovers that his story about the patient has for the most part missed the mark. He gains some solace in the end, however, for at least he made the attempt to understand a fellow sufferer's life and death, an act the doctors and nurses were unwilling to do.


This story can serve as a "warning" to those who try to think or write in the "voice" of a patient. While it may be important to attempt to understand the life of the patient from his or her perspective, such understanding is always imperfect.


Translated by D. Johnson-Davies.

Primary Source

Modern Arabic Short Stories


Three Continents

Place Published

Washington, D.C.




D. Johnson-Davies

Page Count