Sarah Krasnostein

Books Daniel Kirschen, +1 212 556 5600 Email Daniel Kirschen

The Trauma Cleaner

book | Non-Fiction | Mar 2018
UK & Comm → Text (Ed. Michael Heyward)
US & Canada → St Martin's Press Inc (Ed. Laura Chasen)

One Woman's Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster 

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 rubbish she has not put out for forty years. A man who bled quietly to death in his loungeroom. 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.

Winner of the Victorian Prize of Literature 2018

Winner of the Victorian Premier's Literary Award for Non-Fiction 2018

Winner, Australian Book Industry Awards, General Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 2018

Winner, Dobbie Literary Award, 2018

Finalist, Walkley Book Award 2018

Shortlisted, Wellcome Prize for Non-Fiction (UK) 2019

Shortlisted, NSW Premier's Literary Awards for Non-Fiction

Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Non-Fiction 2018

Shortlisted, Melbourne Prize Best Writing Award 2018

Shortlisted, Moran Nib Literary Award

Shortlisted, ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year, 2018


Helen Manders manages the translation rights for The Trauma Cleaner

Audio Rights


The audio rights are handled by Liz Farrell.

Film Rights


Contact Daniel Kirschen for more information

Translation Rights Sold

Chinese Complex
Sun Color
Lind & Co

Krasnostein’s playful yet heartfelt debut is one of the most arresting works of biography you will read in a long time.

Lou Heinrich
The Guardian

Krasnostein is an astute observer of human nature and her understated yet elegant prose is reminiscent of Helen Garner.

Kara Nicholson
Full Review

Written with sensitivity, insight and warmth… 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.

Portia Lindsay
Books + Publishing
Full Review

Superbly sensitive… A truly unusual biography which is both confronting and edifying.

F. J. O'Dwyer
Toowoomba Chronicle

Surely the most original non-fiction book of the year... Written with warmth, humour and sensitivity, The Trauma Cleaner is utterly fascinating.

Page & Blackmore Booksellers NZ

Krasnostein has done a clean-up of her own, untangling the narrative behind Pankhurst’s own cluttered memories... She lets Pankhurst’s courage, humanity and sheer decency shine through. It’s a fascinating read.

Robyn Douglass
SA Weekend

This is the startling life story of Pankhurst, a trans woman with a heart the size of Uluru, written in Krasnostein’s irresistibly warm, frank, intelligent voice as she describes sites of sadness and horror that take the reader straight to the dark heart of the human condition.

Kerryn Goldsworthy
Australian Book Review

Through countless encounters with the fetid, the neglected, and the downright tragic, Parkhurst has found meaning and peace, and Krasnostein a singular subject whom she approaches with well deserved awe.

Booklist, starred review
Full Review

...simply crackles with life.

Wellcome Book Prize for Non-Fiction

Sarah Krasnostein's writing is warm and curious. And, carefully, it draws a portrait of Pankhurst you'll remember long after you've finished reading - a woman who is quietly, wonderfully triumphant while standing at the middle and centre of despair.

The Pool

Intriguing...A complex protagonist makes for engaging material.

Publishers Weekly

An extraordinarily impressive debut, in terms of both quality of writing and treatment of the subject matter... Krasnostein handles her material with respect, grace and compassion.

Sydney Morning Herald