Sheri Booker’s first memoir, “Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home,“ is nominated by the NAACP Image Awards for “Outstanding Literary Work from a Debut Author.”

The 45th Annual NAACP Image Awards will occur at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California on Feb. 22. The show will be televised live on the TV One network, starting with the red carpet at 8 p.m.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized among the brightest and most brilliant people of color by the organization that holds us all accountable and makes us all want to be great. I lost my mother, a faithful member of the NAACP, the same the day the nominations were announced, so this nomination means everything to me,” said Booker.

At 15 years old, Booker started working at a funeral home in West Baltimore. She didn’t know her summer job would become 9 years of immersion in a hidden world. Grieving from the death of her beloved great aunt, the funeral home became a place of comfort.

As families came together to bury their love ones, Booker was there to witness their most intimate moments of grief and despair. But along with the sadness, Booker encountered moments of dark humor: brawls between mistresses and widows, and car crashes at McDonald’s with dead bodies in tow. While she never got over her terror of the embalming room, Booker learned to expect the unexpected and to never, ever cry.

This vibrant tour of a macabre world reveals an urban funeral culture where photo-screened memorial T-shirts often replace suits and ties and the dead are sent off with a joint or a fifth of cognac. “Nine Years Under” offer readers an unbelievable glimpse into an industry in the backdrop of all our lives.

Writer, poet, spoken word artist, and teacher. In 2007, she lived in rural South Africa where she helped to teach journalism skills to African women and worked as an editorial assistant for an international literary magazine. She currently teaches a refreshing course called Mind, Body, Soul at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. Sheri has an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. Visit her online at

Current members of the NAACP can cast their vote for Sheri until Feb. 14 by going to