The Flavors of Iraq

Impressions of My Vanished Homeland

Feurat Alani, Illustrated by Léonard Cohen, translated by Kendra Boileau, and Foreword by Ross Caputi

“The gulf between the American perception of our war and the Iraqi experience of it is as wide as the Anbar desert. And for too long, American cultural products on the war have offered us a mirror, rather than a bridge, reflecting our own self-image back to us. But now we have a bridge. It’s there, if you care to look. On the other side awaits something new, a way of seeing and thinking that might be unfamiliar and challenging. But it’s real. If you care to look, The Flavors of Iraq is the human story that we were never meant to see.”

coming soon

176 pages
5.875" × 9.375"
2024, coming in May

1989. My first trip to Iraq. The taste of apricot. “Never say Saddam’s name.”

The Western media largely glossed over the immense human suffering that occurred in Iraq during the embargo of the 1990s and the Iraq War. With this innovative and award-winning graphic novel, French-Iraqi journalist Feurat Alani sets that record straight.

The Flavors of Iraq unfolds as a series of one thousand tweets. In them, Alani describes his experiences in Iraq from 1989, when he traveled from France to meet his extended family in Iraq for the first time, to 2011, when the last Americans pulled out of the country. Alani recounts the vivid impressions this place made on him as a child—its wondrous colors, tastes, and smells. And he documents the sounds, silences, and smells of a war in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians lost their lives.

Illustrated by the striking art of Léonard Cohen and with a foreword by Ross Caputi, a former US Marine who served in Iraq from 2003 to 2006, The Flavors of Iraq tells a poetic and powerful story of an oppressed population, an illegal war, and a country that no longer exists.

“The gulf between the American perception of our war and the Iraqi experience of it is as wide as the Anbar desert. And for too long, American cultural products on the war have offered us a mirror, rather than a bridge, reflecting our own self-image back to us. But now we have a bridge. It’s there, if you care to look. On the other side awaits something new, a way of seeing and thinking that might be unfamiliar and challenging. But it’s real. If you care to look, The Flavors of Iraq is the human story that we were never meant to see.”
“A moving journey by a diasporic Iraqi journalist as he returns to discover his homeland and chronicle its people’s plight as they survive dictatorship, crushing economic sanctions, and a neocolonial war that leaves a legacy of death and destruction. A telegraphic account of Fallujah’s (and Iraq’s) wounds and the resilience of its people, told with wit and love.”

Born in France to Iraqi parents, Feurat Alani is an award-winning journalist and novelist. He was a news correspondent in Baghdad from 2003 to 2008 for Télé (now CNews), Ouest France, La Croix, and Le Point. In 2008, Alani returned to Paris to work on the television newsmagazine L’Effet papillon. He is the cofounder of the production companies Baozi Prod and In Sight Films. Alani collaborates regularly with the newspaper Le Monde diplomatique, the website Orient XXI, and the magazine Géo, and works as a reporter and producer with Arte, France 24, and Canal+. The Flavors of Iraq was originally published as Le Parfum d’Irak in 2018 and went on to win the Prix Albert Londres for the best book in 2019.

Léonard Cohen is a French animator based in Oakland, California. He earned his master’s degree in animation at the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris in 2009. His film Plato was selected in many festivals and won multiple awards. Cohen designed the TV series Le Chiffroscope, which ran weekly for three seasons (2012–15) on L’Effet papillon.