All too often in non-fiction, the reader comes to the end of a book and is left thinking it would have worked better as an essay. The kernel of a great idea was certainly there but it wasn’t necessarily worthy of 90,000 odd words. Sarah Krasnostein’s The Trauma Cleaner inverts this common literary problem. Originally published as an essay, Krasnostein’s portrait of trauma cleaner Sandra Pankurst’s extraordinary life is gripping to the final page.
Krasnostein first met Sandra Pankurst at a forensic support services conference. Intrigued by the prospect that it is actually someone’s job – and a highly specialised one at that – to clean up after homicides, suicides, hoarders and squalor, Krasnostein sought an interview. What she discovered was a woman even more interesting and complex than her job; an unlikely but entirely compelling biography subject.
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