One of the most arresting works of biography you'll read in a long time
February 1, 2018 3:52 AM   Subscribe

We previously met this subject and author in the Secret Life of a Crime Scene Cleaner. Tonight in Melbourne, part-time legal consultant and first-time book author Sarah Krasnostein, won Australia's richest literary award for her work The Trauma Cleaner, the 'complex and tender memoir' of Sandra Pankhurst. Judges said the title is "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."

Krasnostein collects $100,000 for the Victorian Literary Award and $25,000 for the non-fiction category prize. For the second year running, women won all five categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, young adult, and the main prize in the annual awards.

“If you look back at the previous winners [says Michael Williams, the director of the Wheeler Centre which administers the prize], the ones that break through are the ones that walk that line between embodying the best of their chosen genre, while at the same time transcending it."
posted by Thella (10 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Isn't this profession fairly new, like a few decades? What the hell did people do before it came to be?
posted by thelonius at 5:49 AM on February 1, 2018

From what I’ve read the survivors just suffered in silence trying to figure out how to literally pick up the pieces, clean up, and move on?
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:10 AM on February 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I guess so......these services were needed after my friend's suicide last Fall, and I'm grateful for them. It seems that a very recent suicide by gunshot is nowhere near the worst thing they deal with, too.
posted by thelonius at 6:14 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wow! Sandra is such an inspiration. Positivity, compassion, joy.

The book is not available in the US until 4/10. I definitely want to read it. And I want the hardcover to share with others.
posted by narancia at 6:40 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

Wow, what an amazing woman. Sandra and Sarah both, really. Thank you for posting this.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:31 AM on February 1, 2018

"I ask her how she maintains that level of compassion.

“Everyone deserves it — because I deserve it as well,” she says."

That is beautiful and profound and very self-affirming. I can't wait until the book comes out in the US. Just pre-ordered it.
posted by xingcat at 8:04 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was just able to put a hold on it at my local library, the third person to do so which is pretty good for a book not out yet.

I was friends with a crime scene cleaner. Once while we were watching a movie her phone rang and she jumped up yelling it was her work ring tone and she had to go.

The ringtone was “I just died in you arms tonight”
posted by lepus at 8:06 AM on February 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

I loved the Secret Life story/article and I simply cannot wait to read this when this audiobook comes out. Crossing my fingers that it's SOON!

I used to read 2-3 books a week. HA! Not anymore. My tired, old eyes can't read for lengths of time without having vicious blurred vision in the center -- plus being a older single momma to a 4 year old, the only time I ever have to "read" is in the car on my commute or while multi-tasking like doing dishes. Without audiobooks I'd have to give up on reading all together. They have saved me from a dull life without words.
posted by crayon at 8:16 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can vouch that the book is amazing. There really isn't that much about crime scene cleanup - it seems a lot of Sandra's work is with living folk who are hoarders or suffer from mental illness or just get overwhelmed by their stuff, and part of the joy of the book is the deep wells of patience and compassion she brings to bear on their situations in a very practical way.

The book does include an explicit description of a violent sexual assault, for those who would rather avoid that.
posted by andraste at 1:47 PM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

The difference in the Australian and US cover art on the two Amazons is interesting.

The Australian cover features an orange glove that is knotted or crumpled in the middle (tough to see for me). The US one has a yellow glove with one blood spot on the index finger and one on the top of the wrist. Is the standard cleaning glove in Australia orange? Definitely yellow here in the US.
posted by narancia at 2:10 PM on February 1, 2018

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