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Prodigal Summer | 2000

Barbara Kingsolver, a writer praised for her"extravagantly gifted narrative voice" (New York Times Book Review), has created with this novel a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself.

Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia. At the heart of these intertwined narratives is a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches the forest from her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin where she is caught off-guard by Eddie Bondo, a young hunter who comes to invade her most private spaces and confound her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, another web of lives unfolds as Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer's wife, finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly, feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the complexities of a world neither of them expected.

Over the course of one humid summer, as the urge to procreate overtakes a green and profligate countryside, these characters find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place. Their discoveries are embedded inside countless intimate lessons of biology, the realities of small farming, and the final, urgent truth that humans are only one part of life on earth.

With the richness that characterizes Barbara Kingsolver's finest work, Prodigal Summer embraces pure thematic originality and demonstrates a balance of narrative and ideas that only an accomplished novelist could render so beautifully.

Critics' Praise

“Kingsolver deftly addresses the struggle between mankind and nature ... A lush ... novel of love and loss in Appalachia." 
— USMAGAZINE

A “blend of breathtaking artistry, encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world, attention to detail, and ardent commitment to the supremacy of nature. … Barbara Kingsolver remains a voice readers have come to respect and love, a writer we will keep reading for as long as she continues to grace us with her bounty.”
— SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

“As illuminating as it is absorbing. … Resonates with the author’s overarching wisdom and passion.”
— NEW YORK TIMES

“A warm, intricately constructed book shot through with an extraordinary amount of insight and information about the wonders of the visible world.” 
— NEWSWEEK

Kingsolver’s “sexy, lyrical fifth novel renders our solitary yearnings with a finely trained eye and ear.” 
— PEOPLE

An “extravagantly gifted narrative voice.” 
— NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“Kingsolver’s lyrical prose and superb storytelling are perfectly matched by her gentle narration with its core strength and emotional fluency.” 
— AUDIOFILE