Sarah Krasnostein, The Trauma Cleaner

9781925498523 One can generally guarantee that if the lovely people at Text publish a book it’s got to be good and this one certainly proves that point! Some of my favourite Text books of 2018 include Tom Rachman’s The Italian Teacher, Helen Lewis’ The Dead Still Cry Out, Carlos Ruiz Zafan’s The Labyrinth of the Spirits, Garry Disher’s Kill Shot and Raphael Jerusalmy’s Evacuation.

I can now add Krasnostein’s The Trauma Cleaner to that list.

What’s not to love about this book? Firstly, the author – a writer, researcher, lawyer with a PhD in criminal law. She’s young and gorgeous and clearly so very talented when it comes to crafting intriguing characters and magnificent plots. And she’s Australian!

The protagonist in this tale, Sandra Pankhurst, is a troubled individual with a complicated past and a devastating occupation. There are so many layers to Sandra and through her telling, Krasnostein teases them all out. Sandra is not necessarily a likeable character. Indeed, she is so deeply troubled that there is a sorrow that follows her through this book like a shadow. Her harrowing job as a trauma cleaner is perfect to convey her inner turmoil and while there are shocking aspects to this book, they are somehow fitting of the trauma that Sandra has experienced in her life.

It was only when I reached the end of Krasnostein’s book that I realised how well it was crafted. The characters and plot seemed to cover up the literary brilliance until the final pages and I’m not entirely sure what made me suddenly appreciate the literariness of the book. Krasnostein is clearly a master literary craftsman who manages to combine complex and troubling ideas of homelessness, gender bias and identity with empathy and honesty in a way that allows the reader to drown in the story without losing sight of the issues and their poignancy.

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