Before we can rightly understand The Shack, it is important to understand the book within its literary framework. The book does technically fall within the genre that is commonly labeled “Christian fiction,” and therefore does, to an extent, carry with it certain literary implications. For example, being fictional, after having read the book, we do not expect to stumble upon the main character, Mack, when we visit the northwestern part of America. Also, we, to a certain extent, suspend our disbelief while reading the book, if only to help us endure the book to the end.
The Author and the Speaker
That said, more important than the genre into which The Shack falls is understanding how the author, William Young, sets up his work to be understood and how he desires it to be read. In the foreword to the book, we are given these parameters. The speaker introduces himself as the narrator of Mack’s story, a story that, according to him, invites skepticism for, “Who wouldn’t be skeptical when a man claims to have spent an entire weekend with God, in a shack no less?” (p. 9). The speaker in his foreword of Mack’s story, conveys to the reader his own supposed reluctance in believing certain aspects of Mack’s story, but, because of the character of Mack, gives Mack the benefit of the doubt.