Tuesday, February 17

BAM! BAM! BAM! Jonathan Lethem alert at Defcon 4! Sam Mendes, endearingly shlubby director and hubby to the mysteriously much-reviled Kate Winslet, is celebrating his fancy Shakespeare play, The Winter’s Tale, at a Brooklyn Academy of Music benefit with an offbeat cadre of acting geniuses like Steve Buscemi, Patricia Clarkson, Willem Dafoe, Jeremy Irons and Kevin Spacey; also media power couple Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, and Ethan Hawke, who stars in the play. … Back in Manhattan, KGB Bar lays down some fancy carpets and fans the flames of swarthy intellectualism with “Iran Night,” an evening of nonfiction readings by Persian authors like Hooman Majd, who will read from his recent tome, The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran. “It’s not a political book,” insisted Mr. Majd, who in 2006 detailed in this newspaper his experience translating for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations. (He waved in my direction, and I waved back. Me and Mahmoud, I thought to myself. …”) “It’s not a policy book, it’s not a history book, it’s more cultural and social, I think. Ahmadinejad plays a part in the book, not because of him but what he represents. There are Ahmadinejads all over Iran, just as there are George Bushes all over America. The whole point of the book was to try to give an idea to Westerners of who the Iranian people are and why they came to be the way they are. A glimpse into the Iranian psyche more than anything else.”

[BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 6 p.m. cocktails followed by 8 p.m. performance, 718-636-4182; KGB Non-Fiction Presents Iran Night, 85 East Fourth Street, 7 p.m., 212-505-3360; BAM’s Bridge Project Benefit]

mbryan@observer.com

Tuesday, February 17