Academics are undoubtedly at the forefront of efforts to understand and communicate the sorts of far-reaching contemporary changes that make rural space so heavily contested. However, numerous other writers are engaged in contemporary debates about rurality and, among them all, Barbara Kingsolver stands out as particularly important. As such, this paper uses her novel Prodigal Summer to consider how Kingsolver imagines and portrays contested rural geographies. Analytically, the approach develops current ideas in literary geography by asking about the "scalar" poetics and underlying, unwritten causal geographies of Prodigal Summer. Via a careful consideration of these issues in the novel, the paper discusses how the world Kingsolver imagines and depicts overlaps with contemporary debates in rural studies. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.