Once rejected by multiple mainstream publishers, the slim Christian novel The Shack is flying off shelves, topping the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. “Everybody that I know has bought at least 10 copies,” says one devotee. The Times looks at a blockbuster built around an unconventional depiction of God—as a jolly black woman named “Papa.”
Author William Young knew “Papa” might irk readers. “It was just a way of saying: ‘You know what? I don’t believe that God is Gandalf with an attitude,’” he says. And while conservative Christian leaders and bloggers have decried the book, the controversy hasn’t hurt sales. The publisher says the book has sold a million copies.