courtesy photoA free black man who has been abducted and sold into slavery struggles to survive in “12 Years a Slave.”

November 4: '12 Years a Slave' and other SF events

Who’s in town

Economist and Nobel Prize recipient Edmund Phelps gives a lecture in which he draws on decades of thinking to make a new argument about what makes nations prosper. [6 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

Lectures

David Finkel: The Washington Post reporter discusses what life after war is like for both soldiers and their families and friends. [6 p.m., Marines’ Memorial Club, 609 Sutter St., S.F.; RSVP: (415) 673-6672, ext. 229]

Filippo Grandi: The commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East discusses how the Syria crisis has affected refugees. [Noon, World Affairs Council, 312 Sutter St., S.F.]

‘Monday Night Philosophy’: Series welcomes Berkeley Daily Planet columnist Matt Cantor. “Future Ethics: Reproduction Rights Versus Social Policy” is his topic. [6 p.m., Commonwealth Club, 595 Market St., S.F.]

J.K. Dineen: The author of “Here Tomorrow: Preserving Architecture, Culture, and California’s Golden Dream” discusses his book in a program focusing on local historic preservation. [6 p.m., SPUR, 654 Mission St., S.F.]

Eliot Quataert: The professor discusses how the universe evolved from the Big Bang to the discovery of planets around other stars. [7:30 p.m., California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, Golden Gate Park, S.F.; RSVP: (877) 227-1831]

Literary events

Poems and pictures: Poet August Kleinzahler and photographer Alec Soth appear in conversation with Steven Winn. [7:30 p.m., Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes St., S.F.]

Dave Isay: The NPR producer and StoryCorps founder discusses “Ties That Bind.” [6 p.m., Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, S.F.]

Yasmine Surovec: The cartoonist and blogger talks about “Cats vs Humans: Another Dose of Catnip.” [7:30 p.m., Booksmith, 1644 Haight St., S.F.]

At the colleges

Artist talk: Keltie Ferris, known for her large, abstract, gestural and layered paintings, discusses her work. [7:30 p.m., San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., S.F.]

At the public library

Book group: Western Addition Book Discussion Group discusses “The Warmth of Other Suns” by Isabel Wilkerson. [4 p.m., Western Addition Branch, 1550 Scott St., S.F.]

Brain Fitness: Class explores how to exercise the brain in fun and challenging ways. [2 p.m., Latino/Hispanic Room, Main Library, 100 Larkin St., S.F.]

Harrowing journey

A free black man who has been abducted and sold into slavery struggles to survive in “12 Years a Slave.” [Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center, S.F.; (415) 352-0835, and Kabuki Cinemas, 1881 Post St. S.F.; (415) 929-4650]

Local activities

Student-exchange program: The World Affairs Council, partnering with Youth for Understanding, hosts an evening detailing how high-school students can receive scholarships to study abroad. [6:30 p.m., 312 Sutter St., S.F.]

Singer-songwriter: Synth-pop and dream-pop singer-songwriter Glasser performs a concert in support of her second studio album, “Interiors.” [8 p.m.,Chapel, 777 Valencia St., S.F.]

Machka: The pistachio-crusted goat cheese and the grilled octopus are recommended appetizers today. Also look for the Adana kebab, with marinated ground beef and lamb, plus onions, garlic and parsley. [584 Washington St., S.F.; (415) 391-8228]

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