Dana Czapnik

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***A New York Times Editor's Choice Pick***

***An O Magazine Reading Room Pick***

***Long-listed for the 2019 Center For Fiction First Novel Prize***

“A novel of huge heart and fierce intelligence. It has restored my faith in pretty much everything.” — Ann Patchett, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Commonwealth

“[An] electric debut novel… Lucy’s fierce first-person point of view is as confident and fearless as she is on the court; she narrates her story with the immediacy and sharpness of a sports commentator, mixed with the pathos and wisdom of a perceptive adolescent charting the perils of her senior year of high school… Reader, beware: Spending time with Lucy is unapologetic fun, and heartbreak, and awe as well.” Chloe Malle, New York Times Book Review

“There's so much more going on in The Falconer than "just" basketball, but as folks I know who love the game tell me, this seemingly speedy game slows down for good players: They can see everything happening on the court — every player, every movement, every possibility — with startling clarity. In The Falconer, Dana Czapnik displays this same gift: In bringing Lucy to life, she sees the whole game.” Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air, NPR

“In this multicultural starburst of Manhattan past come the triumphs and trials of belonging that are the heartbeat of the novel… With prose that mimics Lucy’s athletic skills — at times muscular, at others poetic — author Dana Czapnik glides between biting wit and philosophical musings on the nature of love and being. The book delivers on poignant wisdoms… probing the possibilities of womanhood and belonging.” — Rosa Boshier, Los Angeles Review of Books

The Falconer introduces 17-year-old Lucy Adler, a basketball phenom and equally extraordinary observer of the world around her — the book is filled with highly caffeinated badass riffs on Manhattan's scenery and soul, on feminism and art, on Lucy's generation, and on basketball itself… Lucy's simmering sexuality, her reaction to the male bodies around her, is never off the page for long. After all the books we've read about horny, frustrated adolescent boys, it's nice to get a different perspective… Lucy may come from 1993, but her voice and her energy are just what we need right now.” Marion Winik, Newsday

“This is a rare coming-of-age story so richly told and wholly captivating that Czapnik may in time find herself held up and used as the example of what fine literary writing is all about.” —Donna Everhart, New York Journal of Books

“Girl meets ball, boy, and world in approximately that order in Dana Czapnik’s electrifying debut novel, The Falconer — a frank, bittersweet coming-of-age story that crackles with raw adolescent energy, fresh-cut prose, and a kinetic sense of place.” Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

“The writing in Czapnik's debut is sparkling throughout; her background as a sports journalist shines in the basketball passages. ‘Does art always win?’ Lucy wonders, reading a protest sign at an ‘Art vs. Kmart’ demonstration. ‘If it did, the world would be a very different place. Yet it doesn't always lose either, does it? So I guess the answer is sometimes. Sometimes art wins.’ It certainly does here. Coming-of-age in Manhattan may not have been done this brilliantly since Catcher in the Rye. That comparison has been made before, but this time, it's true. Get ready to fall in love.” Starred Kirkus Review

“Novels about female athletes are rare. “The Falconer”, a debut from Dana Czapnik, a veteran sports journalist, is a corrective. The moments when Lucy, the book’s narrator, is shooting hoops offer some of the liveliest sports writing in fiction. Yet the real joy of this coming-of-age story derives from inhabiting such a nuanced 17-year-old, who vividly captures the hubris and insecurity of youth… “The Falconer” is a winning tale about the often-painful alchemy of adolescence, which transforms the misadventures of youth into something like wisdom.” The Economist

“You can try, but you’re unlikely to find descriptions of basketball as elegant as those in Dana Czapnik’s debut novel… The Falconer offers astute observations on the difficulties women confront when trying to succeed in male-dominated fields. In Lucy, Czapnik has created a great character who refuses to conform to expectations.” — Michael Magras, Bookpage

“A basketball-obsessed tomboy navigates the schoolyard’s complex gender politics in this Lady Bird-like love letter to an unconventional girlhood set in 1990s Manhattan.” — O Magazine

“[A] spellbinding debut… Czap­nik bril­liant­ly man­ages to por­tray Lucy as at once a cal­low teenag­er hun­gry for a con­stant adren­a­line rush, and a much wis­er adult capa­ble of observ­ing her short­com­ings from a dis­tance.” Jaclyn Gilbert, Jewish Book Council

The most entertaining New York novel I’ve ever read.” Adam Langer, The Forward

“Once in a while a character comes along that gives voice to our own lives, our own heads and a chafing for something more… With a voice that’ll make you want to tear through its 274 pages, Adler’s sweet discoveries of feminism and self-belief are a joy to behold while its last line (don’t peek) is worth getting tattooed on your wrist. Don’t miss it.” Stylist Magazine

“[Lucy’s] attempts to come to terms with a world in which she doesn't quite fit are both endearing and poignant. Her voice is pitch-perfect: witty, street-smart and original, and her description of the Big Apple has the city sparking off the page.” — Franny Blake, Daily Mail UK

“Seventeen years old, unabashedly tomboyish, and perceptive as they come, Lucy Adler comes to grips with the unfair bargain—the unspoken rules, the professional restraints, the double standards—that a 20th century woman century must uphold from the sprawling landscape of New York City. The result is as laugh-out-loud hysterical as it is deeply poignant and insightful: English professors everywhere, add this one to your required reading lists.” — Paperback Paris

“This is the book we needed as teenagers, but it is by no means a teenage book. Following in the bildungsroman tradition, Dana Czapnik captures the strange interplay of insight, ambition and innocence of being seventeen. The majesty of The Falconer is all wrapped up in its heroine . . . [and the] emotional landscape and setting is so warm it engulfs you, transporting you right back to the thrills and fears of growing up.” — Lucy Brooks, Culturewhisper

“Smart, tough, an extraordinary athlete, Lucy Adler teeters, zealous and baffled, on the cusp of womanhood. Dana Czapnik’s frank heroine has a voice, and a perspective, you won’t soon forget. The Falconer is an exhilarating debut.” Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl

The Falconer is a deeply affecting tale of a young woman coming of age in a man’s world. I’ve never read a character quite like Lucy in fiction - a deeply intelligent basketball player with a sharp, incisive take on the changing city and country in which she lives. She jumps right off the page.” — Salman Rushdie, Man Booker Prize winning author of Midnight's Children

“Dana Czapnik's first novel is an unsentimental education in all that is urgent, soulful, and intimate. As much the portrait of an era as it is the portrait of an adolescence, this is a crossover novel that will thrill readers of all generations. The Falconer captures the grueling, exhilarating pathos of one woman's quest to become whole. A wonderful debut.” Colum McCann, National Book Award winning author of Let the Great World Spin

“Told with a poet's ear and a basketball player's eye and reflexes, The Falconer is an extraordinary book. Czapnik is refreshingly honest and open-eyed about the way money, gender and the demands of the body steer the overwhelming longings and frustrations of being a young woman growing up in the city. Every detail feels true and important, every small observation tells a larger story. A wonderful new talent.” — Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances and American Innovations

“Meet Lucy Adler. As I read The Falconer, I felt like I'd found a literary cousin of Holden Caulfield--if Holden were a straight-shooting, hip-hop-listening, court-dominating, seventeen-year-old Jewish-Italian girl. Dana Czapnik has crafted a wholly original coming-of-age story. In basketball terms, The Falconer is a fearless three-point shot.” — Chloe Benjamin, New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists

“I fell utterly in love with Lucy Adler, with her energy, her drive, her heart full to bursting with ambition and hope and unrequited love ... An intoxicating debut.” — Lucy Caldwell, author of Multitudes


New York, 1993. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Adler, a street-smart, trash-talking baller, is often the only girl on the public courts. Lucy’s inner life is a contradiction. She’s by turns quixotic and cynical, insecure and self-possessed and, despite herself, is in unrequited love with her best friend and pick-up teammate Percy, scion of a prominent New York family who insists he wishes to resist his upper crust fate.
As Lucy navigates this complex relationship in all its youthful heartache and prepares for life in the broader world, she begins to question accepted notions of success, bristling against her own hunger for male approval and searching for an authentic way to live and love. She is drawn into the world of a pair of provocative female artists living in what remains of New York’s bohemia, but soon even their paradise begins to show cracks.
Told in vibrant, quicksilver prose,
The Falconer provides a snapshot of the city’s youth as they grapple with privilege and the fading of radical hopes and paints a captivating portrait of a young woman in the first flush of freedom.