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ND Literary Festival Presents: William Paul Young

Marielle Hampe | Monday, February 28, 2011

William Paul Young, author of the best-selling spiritual novel “The Shack,” will speak at Notre Dame Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Eck Visitors Center Auditorium. Since its publication in 2007, “The Shack” has sold nearly 14 million copies in print and remained No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list for 49 weeks.

“The Shack” went largely unnoticed for a year after its publication, but in the summer of 2008 it debuted atop the Times’ paperback fiction list. “The Shack” can attribute its success to promotion in churches and on Christian-themed websites and publications. The book has enjoyed international acclaim and has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, German and Croatian.

“The Shack” explores a father’s spiritual journey as he tries to understand his youngest daughter’s abduction and murder. The father, Mack, goes to a shack for a weekend and encounters manifestations of God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

“‘The Shack’ points people back to the Bible and ultimately to the love of God for us all,” said senior Felicia Aguirre, chair of the Literary Festival.

“I wanted to bring William Young to ND because I feel like he’s an important writer for our generation,” Aguirre said. “‘The Shack’ was a book that inspired millions. I found it fascinating that people of different ages and of different faiths could read and talk about this book together. It really takes the idea of God, and specifically the Holy Trinity, to a very understandable, relatable level. I think many people, and particularly Notre Dame students, have similar experiences with ‘The Shack’ as I did, and from the moment I got involved with the Literary Festival, I knew William Young was a speaker I wanted to invite.”

“The Shack” has sparked conversations about God around the world, and there have been many criticisms and responses to the book. While some evangelists have condemned the book, other theologians have responded sympathetically to the portrayal of God. Theologian Randal Rauser responds to many critics’ objections and explores several of the book’s controversial issues in his book, “Finding God in the Shack.”

Copies of “The Shack” will be available for purchase at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore, and a dessert reception and book signing will follow Young’s speech. The event is a part of Notre Dame Literary Festival.

The Notre Dame Literary Festival began in 1967 as the dream of J. Richard Rossi. Rossi organized a symposium of literary scholars to celebrate the life and works of William Faulkner. The Festival gained support, and the following year Joseph Heller, author of “Catch 22,” and Ralph Ellison, author of “Invisible Man,” attended the festival.

Throughout its 44-year history, the festival has taken many forms. While in some years all of the events occur during one week, this year, Aguirre said she wanted to “spread our speakers out over the course of the entire school year so that students who wanted to attend multiple festival events would have more time.”

The Notre Dame Literary Festival includes four events this year. George Saunders and Craig Nova have already spoken, and Audrey Niffenegger, author of “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” will speak at Notre Dame April 13. If you are a fan of “The Shack,” or if you enjoy novels discussing spirituality and faith, then join the Notre Dame Literary Festival on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Eck Visitors Center Auditorium for Young’s speech and reception.