Portraitist Gérard Rondeau has photographed some of the world’s best-known arts and literary figures. Tonight, La Maison Française unveils 100 Rondeau portraits—-most austere and stunning in black and white (see image, right)—-of his famous and/or fascinating subjects, from Susan Sontag to Gore Vidal to Louise Bourgeois. To catch the show early, stop by this evening’s free wine reception at 7 p.m. If you can’t make it tonight, the images will be on view through March 16. RSVP required, since this is an embassy and all.
Shalom Auslander’s trick as a humorist is to take indisputable truisms and dispute them, claiming they mean the opposite of what we thought they did. Solomon Kugel, the self-loathing hero of Auslander’s debut novel, Hope: A Tragedy (see?), regularly consults with a shrink who argues that Eden was Hell and Hitler was an optimist. (“Pessimists don’t build gas chambers,” Kugel is told.) Auslander carpet-bombs the book with provocations, none more unsettling than the idea that Anne Frank can be a subject for satire. Kugel’s discovery of an elderly, decrepit Frank living in the attic of his home leads into a brutally comic study of how unshakable the Holocaust is for even the most secular Jew. If you see nothing funny about cracking wise about this stuff, look elsewhere, but Hope: A Tragedy is free of cheap shots, and ultimately it’s a humane novel about how much we lean on the past to reckon with the present. Auslander discusses and signs his book at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose. Free. (Mark Athitakis)
Yay! This week, Arlington’s One More Page Books celebrates its first anniversary. Celebrate this evening with wine and snacks at the shop. 6:30 p.m.
The ever-popular Brazilian Rhythms DJ night returns to Cafe Saint-Ex tonight with DJ Neville C (Som Records’ Neal Becton) and a sponsorship from Peroni beer. Load yer gullet with cheap Italian lager and get mellow. 9 p.m. or so. Free.
Mavis Staples performs at 24-hour eatery The Hamilton tonight, and it looks like some cheaper tickets have been made available. Sushi and Mavis Staples? I can think of worse ways to spend a Thursday night. 8 p.m. $60-$100.
There are two fine options on H Street this evening: Ghost (the semi-heavy Swedish band with the killer graphic designer) headlines Rock & Roll Hotel alongside Blood Ceremony and Ancient VVisdom (doors 8 p.m., $15); and Tereu Tereu, band of City Paper writer Ryan Little, opens for Canada’s Wildlife at Red Palace (doors 8 p.m., $10 at the door).