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The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster

Sarah Krasnostein


Text Publishing Company

True stories


320 pages

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ABBEY’S BOOKSELLER PICK —— Sandra Pankhurst runs a business that cleans up after messes others can’t – deaths, accidents, hoarders and abnormal squalor. She is compassionate, practical and gently insistent with her clients. It’s because she has suffered too much herself to be judgmental. Born a boy, adopted, neglected, abused, married young. Then the gay scene, drag queens, sex-work and gender reassignment. Add drink and drugs, horrific crimes committed against her; but also success in business and a loving husband – Sandra has lived fully! Intersperse with clients’ stories and you have a book as fascinating as the woman herself! Lindy Jones


Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things - husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife.

But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.

A woman who sleeps among garbage she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his lounge room. A woman who lives with rats, random debris and terrified delusion. The still-life of a home vacated by accidental overdose.

Sarah Krasnostein has watched the extraordinary Sandra Pankhurst bring order and care to these, the living and the dead - and the book she has written is equally extraordinary. Not just the compelling story of a fascinating life among lives of desperation, but an affirmation that, as isolated as we may feel, we are all in this together.

By:   Sarah Krasnostein
Imprint:   Text Publishing Company
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   389g
ISBN:   9781925498523
ISBN 10:   1925498522
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   October 2017
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sarah Krasnostein was born in America, studied in Melbourne and has lived and worked in both countries. Earning her doctorate in criminal law, she is a law lecturer and researcher. Her essay, The Secret Life of a Crime Scene Cleaner, was published on Longreads and listed in Narratively's Top 10 Stories for 2014. She lives in Melbourne, and spends part of the year working in New York City. The Trauma Cleaner is her first book.

`Written with sensitivity, insight and warmth...Krasnostein has pieced together a compelling history through careful research and interviews. The Trauma Cleaner is no ordinary trauma narrative: we see how the infliction of multiple traumas has left this fascinating woman uniquely placed to restore order among the despair of others, and it is with similar care that Krasnostein has produced this book.' * Books+Publishing *

  • Long-listed for Indie Book Award for Non-fiction 2018 (Australia)
  • Short-listed for Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction 2017 (Australia)
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