Nawaaz Ahmed is a transplant from Tamil Nadu, India. Before turning to writing, he was a computer scientist, researching search algorithms for Yahoo. He holds an MFA from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is the recipient of residencies at Macdowell, VCCA, Yaddo, and Djerassi. He is a former Kundiman and Lambda Literary Fellow. Radiant Fugitives (Counterpoint, 2021) is his first novel and is currently longlisted for the 2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. He lives in Brooklyn.
What is the N4
We are writers, musicians, and visual artists united under one shared goal: to inspire and encourage young people to tap into their creative and imaginative best.
Our work with artists
Our artists network creatively cultivates a more inclusive world, starting in the classroom
Mentor the next generation
Artists work with students from across the nation and around the world, sharing their journey and guiding young people out on their own.
Work with teachers to motivate students
Through virtual and in-person engagements, our artists help passionate teachers motivate their students in refreshingly new ways.
Develop learning resources
Our artists act as a creative force behind our curriculum and bring literature to life for a new generation using student stories and relatable scenarios.
Storytelling is a mirror into ourTerry Tempest Williams
Narrative 4 encourages people to acknowledgeIshmael Beah
each other’s humanity in a deeper way.
Storytelling is an escape from the jail of the self, leading to the ultimate adventure — seeing life through the eyes of another.Tobias Wolff
Calling all artists
fired-up for change
Drink your passion. Light a fire. Use your talent to transform the lives of young people.
Meet the N4
Xhenet Aliu’s novel, Brass, was awarded the biennial Townsend Prize in 2020, the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year First Novel Prize, was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and was long-listed for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Book Prize. Numerous media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Simple, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, named Brass a 2018 best book of the year. Previously, her debut story collection, Domesticated Wild Things, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. Aliu’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Glimmer Train, Hobart, Lenny, LitHub, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere, and she has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and a fellowship from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, among other awards, including a special mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology. She is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro. http://xhenetaliu.com/
Beth Alvarado’s recent book, Jillian in the Borderlands: A Cycle of Rather Dark Tales, was described by one reviewer as “marrying the social-justice novel with magical realism.” In her nonfiction, she has written extensively about marrying, as a white woman, into her late husband’s Mexican American family when she was 19 years old. Much of her work addresses life in the US/Mexico borderlands where she and Fernando grew up and raised their children. Her lyric memoir Anthropologies layers scenes, oral histories, portraits, dreams, and family myths from both Fernando’s family and her own. Her story collection, Not a Matter of Love, won the Many Voices Project Prize, and her essay collection Anxious Attachments won the 2020 Oregon Book Award. In addition to teaching at the University of Arizona and Oregon State University, she has taught literacy camps for high school students and memoir classes for seniors. https://www.bethalvarado.com/
Hala Alyan is the author of the novel Salt Houses, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award and a finalist for the Chautauqua Prize, as well as the forthcoming novel The Arsonists’ City and four award-winning collections of poetry, most recently The Twenty-Ninth Year. Her work has been published by The New Yorker, the Academy of American Poets, LitHub, the New York Times Book Review, and Guernica. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, where she works as a clinical psychologist.
Reza Aslan is a renowned writer, commentator, professor, Emmy-nominated producer, and scholar of religions. A recipient of the prestigious James Joyce award, Aslan is the author of three internationally best-selling books, including the #1 New York Times Bestseller, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. His producing credits include the acclaimed HBO series The Leftovers and the upcoming Chuck Lorre comedy, United States of Al. He is the host and Executive Producer of Rough Draft with Reza Aslan. Aslan is a tenured Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside. Born in Iran, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife, author and entrepreneur, Jessica Jackley, and their three sons.
Arthur Avilés, an award-winning New York-Rican dancer/choreographer, was crowned “…one of the great modern dancers of the last 15 years” by The NY Times. He founded his Bronx-based contemporary dance company, Arthur Aviles Typical Theater in 1996, and co-founded BAAD! The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance in 1998. He toured internationally for eight years as a member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. He’s choreographed nearly three dozen works performed at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Jacob’s Pillow, Central Park Summerstage, and dozens of U.S. venues. His honors include a Lifetime Achievement Award for Dance from the Bessies (New York Dance and Performance) and an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Bard College, his alma mater.
Ibtisam Azem is a Palestinian short story writer, novelist, and journalist, based in New York. She works as a senior correspondent covering the United Nations for the Arabic daily al-Araby al-Jadeed. She is also co-editor at Jadaliyya e-zine. She has published two novels in Arabic; Her second novel The Book of Disappearance (Sifr al-Ikhtifa) (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2014), was translated into English by Sinan Antoon and published by Syracuse University Press in July 2019.
Anna Badkhen is the author of seven published books. Her latest book, Bright Unbearable Reality (NYRB, 2022), is an essay collection. Her awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Barry Lopez Visiting Writer in Ethics and Community Fellowship, and the Joel R. Seldin Award from Psychologists for Social Responsibility for writing about civilians in war zones. She has written from a dozen war zones on four continents. Her essays and short fiction appear in periodicals and literary magazines such as the New York Review of Books, Granta, The Common, Scalawag, Harper’s, the Paris Review, and the New York Times. Badkhen was born in the Soviet Union and is a US citizen. https://www.annabadkhen.com/
Ishmael Beah, born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, and Radiance of Tomorrow. His newest work, Little Family, a novel, is a profound and tender portrayal of the connections we forge to survive the fate we’re dealt, Little Family marks the further blossoming of a unique global voice. Ishmael Beah was appointed UNICEF’s first Advocate for Children Affected by War on 20 November 2007. In 2007, he also founded the Ishmael Beah Foundation dedicated to helping children affected by war reintegrate into society and improve their lives. He is based in Los Angeles, California, with his wife and children.
Susan Bell has been a writing fellow at XQ Institute, part of Emerson Collective, since 2017. She is the author of The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself (W.W. Norton & Co.); co-author and editor of Property Rights (Steidl) and co-author of Dare to Hope: Saving American Democracy (Miramax). Bell wrote the script for American Power, a performance combining storytelling, live cello music, photographs, and video that premiered at Walker Art Center. She has a master’s degree in French literature from Columbia University and studied at École international de théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. Bell is currently working on a project about the practice and poetics of listening.
Felice Belle consumes and creates stories to make sense of the world and her place in it. As a poet and playwright, she has performed at the Apollo Theater, Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater, TEDWomen and TEDCity2.0. Her writing has been published in several journals and anthologies including Oral Tradition, Bum Rush the Page, and UnCommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Race and Friendship. Playwriting credits include Other Women, Game On! and It Is Reasonable to Expect. She is a lecturer in the low-residency MFA program at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY and Director of Marketing and Communications for the global nonprofit Narrative 4. Her poetry collection Viscera is forthcoming from Etruscan Press (Spring 2023).
Darrell Bourque, poet laureate of Louisiana 2007-2011, is the author of several volumes of poetry. Among the most recent are Where I Waited (on Amede Ardoin and other iconic figures in Louisiana Creole and Cajun music); From the Other Side: Henriette Delille (on 19th century New Orleans social activist and religious leader), and migrare’, a book of ghazals on immigration, migrations, marginalizations and the Other. He is professor emeritus in English and Interdisciplinary Humanities from University of Louisiana-Lafayette and is the recipient of the Louisiana Book Festival Writer Award (2014) and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities Humanist of the Year Award (2019).