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NDMU Grad Sheri Booker Nominated for NAACP Image Award

February 4, 2014

BALTIMORE, Md., Feb. 5, 2014—Baltimore author and Notre Dame of Maryland University  graduate Sheri Booker '04 has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work from a Debut Author for her memoir, Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home.

The winners will be announced during an awards ceremony on Feb. 21

“It's such an honor to be recognized amongst the brightest and most brilliant people of color by the organization that holds us all accountable and makes us all want to be great,” said Booker. “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.” 

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

The funeral home was never short on business, with AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men in the city. As families came together to bury their loved 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, 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.

About Sheri Booker                                                                                                          

Sheri J. Booker is a writer, poet, spoken word artist, and teacher. She is the author of a work of poetry, One Woman, One Hustle (2003); a Vook (digital book with text, video and Internet links), I am the Poem (2011); and the memoir Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner City Funeral Home (2013). 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 has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, and Essence Magazine. Most recently, Sheri has discovered a passion for teaching. 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 and a B.A. in political science from Notre Dame of Maryland University. Visit her online at sheribooker.com.

About the NAACP Image Awards

Recognized as the preeminent multicultural awards show from an African-American point of view, the NAACP Image Awards celebrates the outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts (television, recording, literature, motion picture, writing, and directing), as well as those individuals or groups who promote social justice through their creative endeavors.