Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home

Nine Years Under: Coming of Age in an Inner-City Funeral Home

by Sheri Booker


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Six Feet Under meets The Wire in a dazzling and darkly comic memoir about coming-of-age in a black funeral home in Baltimore

Sheri Booker was only fifteen years old when she started working at Wylie Funeral Home in West Baltimore. She had no idea that her summer job would become nine years of immersion in a hidden world. Reeling from the death of her beloved great aunt, she found comfort in the funeral home, and soon has the run of the place, from its sacred chapels to the terrifying embalming room.

With AIDS and gang violence threatening to wipe out a generation of black men, Wylie was never short on business. As families came together to bury one of their own, Booker was privy to 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 offers readers an unbelievable glimpse into an industry in the backdrop of all our lives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592407125
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/30/2013
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Sheri Booker has a BA in political science from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Goucher College. A writer, poet, spoken word artist, photographer, and teacher, she currently lives in Baltimore.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Her revelations about the daily workings of a funeral home in a poor urban setting are transfixing.”
The New York Times Book Review
“A darkly comic memoir of life and death in urban America.”
Booklist Starred Review
“Booker’s coming-of-age story set against the business of death is filled with both tragedy and humor, and is wholly compelling in its humanity.”
Publishers Weekly
“Great literature and a powerful sense of humanity.”
Baltimore City Paper
Booker’s “insider's story manages to uplift and turn a glimpse of the dark side into a bright reveal of humanity.”
Creative Loafing

Customer Reviews