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.
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
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.
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).
Daniel Henri EmondMusician
Daniel Henri Emond is a Queens-based singer, composer for Musical Theatre, and educator who prefers to write in 1st person. I’ve developed work at Polyphone Festival at University of the Arts, Yaddo, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Corkscrew Festival, NYU, the Melville bi-centennial Conference, and Nantucket Theatre Workshop, and was a 2021 and 2022 Jonathan Larson Finalist. Other composing credits include the multi-lingual score to the International Production of Neil Bartlett’s The Plague at Hong Kong Arts Festival 2021, and DAWN, a new Folk Musical, at Signature. My newest show is a dream musical about Freud and Jung I’m writing with Kate Douglas (Good Hart 2023, Culture Lab Emergence Res, Yaddo). I tour as a banjoist, and write down every dream I can remember. I’ve worked or performed with Sam Bush, Ingrid Michaelson, Dave Malloy, Nathaniel Philbrick, Grace McLean, Larry Cordle, Sam Lee, and others. http://www.danielsswelltunes.com
Melanie Pappadis FaranelloWriter
Melanie Pappadis Faranello is an award-winning writer and founder of Poetry on the Streets, a public art, social-impact project. Her writing has been published in StoryQuarterly, Huffington Post Personal, Blackbird, StorySouth and elsewhere, and twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Winner of the Marianne Russo Award for novel-in-progress, her work has been short-listed for Mary McCarthy Prize in Fiction, William Faulkner Wisdom Competition, among others. Recipient of an Artist Fellowship Award in Fiction, she’s also a Creative Community Fellow with National Arts Strategies. Studying in Nepal, her field research project was recording Limbu oral folklore in the Northeast Himalayas. As a teaching artist certified in Kingian Nonviolence, she’s worked in various communities throughout Chicago, New York City, Ecuador, and currently Hartford.
Assaf Gavron is an acclaimed Israeli writer who has published six novels: Ice, Moving, Almost Dead, Hydromania, The Hilltop and Eighteen Lashes; a collection of short stories, Sex in the Cemetery; and a non-fiction collection of Jerusalem falafel-joint reviews, Eating Standing Up. His fiction has been translated into 12 languages, adapted for the stage at Israel’s national theater, and optioned for movies. He is the recipient of awards in Israel, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Gavron’s latest novel in English, The Hilltop, was published by Scribner in the US in 2014. Son of English immigrants, he grew up in a small village near Jerusalem, and currently lives in Tel Aviv, Israel. He lived in the US, UK, Canada and Germany.
Ruth Gilligan is a writer and academic from Dublin now based in the UK. She has published five books to date and was the youngest person ever to top the Irish Bestsellers’ List. Her most recent novel, The Butchers, (published as The Butchers’ Blessing in the US) is a literary thriller set in the Irish borderlands during the 1996 BSE crisis. Ruth holds degrees works as a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. from Cambridge, Yale, UEA and Exeter. She contributes literary reviews to the Irish Independent, Guardian, TLS and LA Review of Books.
Colm Mac Con IomaireMusician
Colm Mac Con Iomaire is an Irish musician and composer. His father’s people came from the Connemara Gaeltacht. On his mother’s side there was classical instrumental music on the violin and piano. His first musical collaboration happened while he was still in school, a contemporary trad band Kíla. Playing in Kíla was accompanied by a long spell busking with band members in Dublin streets. A friendship with another busker Glen Hansard was followed by a leap into the professional mainstream and a new role, playing fiddle with the wildly popular Frames. From there, he was invited to write scores for films and has released his own solo albums. His new record is titled The River Holds Its Breath / Tost Ar An Abhainn.
Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award. It was also a New York Times Notable Book. James is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. James divides his time between Minnesota and New York.
Edyson Julio is a native of the South Bronx, and a recent graduate of Harvard’s School of Education, where he was awarded an Urban Scholars’ Fellowship. At Harvard, Edyson worked on a social theory that examines the relationship between Street culture and civic duty. Since its founding, his Performing-to-Survive theory has been cited by academics at universities across the country, and used widely in classrooms to improve the teaching and learning process. Before making the move to Cambridge for graduate school, Edyson was a Creative Writing instructor on Rikers Island, and a Workshop Facilitator at Horizon Juvenile Detention. He was awarded the Paul Afolabi Award for Commitment to Educational Justice at Harvard University, and was the commencement speaker for the 2018 graduating class. Edyson also holds a Master of Fine Art in Fiction from Hunter College, and is a Board Member for the Kalief Browder foundation. His work has been profiled by the Bronx Documentary Center, Channel 12 News, and the New York Times.
Phil Klay is an author and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His first book, Redeployment, received the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction. His novel Missionaries was named one of the Wall Street Journal’s ten best books of 2020, and one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year. He has written for the New York Times, the Atlantic, the New Yorker, and other places. He currently teaches fiction at Fairfield University.