Sarah Krasnostein wins Australia's richest literary prize for The Trauma Cleaner

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The Trauma Cleaner:  One Woman's Extraordinary Life in Death, Decay & Disaster by Sarah Krasnostein has won the non-fiction category, as well as winning the overall 2018 Victorian Prize for Literature, chosen from the category winners.

The Trauma Cleaner will be published in the UK on 29th March 2018 by Text Publishing, price £12.99 in trade paperback


The Trauma Cleaner is a poignant and powerful celebration of one remarkable woman’s unrelenting drive to make order from chaos. Many congratulations to Sarah and Text Publishing on this thoroughly deserved win.


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 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.


Credit: Gina Milicia

Credit: Gina Milicia

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. 

Read an extract from The Trauma Cleaner here.

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