NEW YORK, Jan. 26, 2019 — Mike Holtzman's highly praised short story “Paper Dolls of the East” is a finalist for the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Award, it was recently announced. The festival which debuted 10 years ago on the campus of The University of Arizona, will take place in March 2019.

Holtzman's story, which was already awarded an Honorable Mention from Glimmer Train, one of the most respected short-story journals in print, was nominated after competing with a record 693 entries from across the United States. 

The story tells the tale of a young Syrian girl, her life “broken into two uneven pieces” by a mountain range that separates Syria and Lebanon, and the persistence of hope and family in such a dire and forgotten place.

Holtzman, Global President of BLJ Worldwide, witnessed first-hand many of the events depicted in the story while volunteering in the refugee camps in the Beqaa Valley, Lebanon.

I have this dream where I am falling and there is no one to catch me or any solid ground to free me. But I realize now it is the world not me that is falling away, like the collapse of a temporary scaffolding that was built to make me feel tethered to something real and far from death. It is me who is left behind when the world falls. No family. No house. No things. No memories.

— from Paper Dolls of the East

You can read “Paper Dolls of the East” at

SOURCE Michael Holtzman

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