Francesca Sanna on Journey

How was your journey to Italy to the refugee camp? Can you tell us about the two little girls you mentioned on your book?

I visited three refugee centres, two in Switzerland and one in Italy. While I was in these centres, I met very different people from very different countries. The two girls I mention at the end of the book were somehow “special” for my research because I felt there was something special about the conversations we had. One was in her early twenties, as I was at the time, and before she had to flee her country she was a student (as I was), and it was so easy for me to keep finding similarity between us, except for everything in her story that happened after she left her home. The other one was a young mother, and what she told me about her journey with her children really stayed with me.

Which is the most touching story you heard while you were collecting stories from different migrants?

I think there were so many special details from each story. There was always something that I felt was “touching”, even when the conversations we had were really short, or we could not communicate very easily because of language barriers, there was always a detail I could identify with, that made me think, “what if this was my story?” I think that was the most important thing for me during this process.

What was your purpose and which point did you especially want to touch on while drawing this book?

The main purpose I had was to ask the question “What if this were our story?” Recently the author Khaled Hosseini wrote,”Refugees are ordinary people who once had a place in the world and no longer do.”

I think that this is very easy to forget, and I think this was the main point I wanted to touch with The Journey.

You really succeeded in expressing this deep and extensive situation while using so few words.

The style of the text is inspired by the kinds of conversations I had with people while I was listening to their stories. The sentences were sometimes very short, with a lot of silence between one and the other, I tried to recreate this feeling while the pictures give more details to the story.

Thanks to Francesca and Flying Eye Books for this interview.