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maybe it was a PRANK

In a country as politically conscious as India, it's usually not hard to find such a high-profile official as the chief of state on any given day. In the city of Bangalore Monday night, however, a local TV announcer was reading - over the air - a list of names of missing persons. When photos were available, they were shown as well. Part-way into the list, a picture of President K.R. Narayanan appeared for six seconds. Viewers knowing his whereabouts were urged to contact the local police. Narayanan couldn't have been out of sight for long. By the next day he was in the reviewing stand in the capital, New Delhi, for a parade in honor of India's National Day.

National Book Critics name finalists for 1998 awards

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Winners of the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Awards will be announced March 8 in New York. Early this week, the group of some 400 editors and critics released the names of its 1998 finalists in five categories: fiction, nonfiction, biography/autobiography, criticism, and poetry. The fiction and nonfiction finalists and the books for which they were nominated:

Fiction

Michael Cunningham: "The Hours"

David Gates: "Preston Falls"

Alice Munro: "The Love of a Good Woman"

Lorrie Moore: "Birds of America"

Lynne Tillman: "No Lease on Life"

Nonfiction

Ira Berlin: "Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America"

Philip Gourevitch: "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda"

Adam Hochschild: "King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa"

Roy Porter: "The Greatest Benefit to Mankind: A Medical History of Humanity From Antiquity to the Present"

Simon Winchester: "The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary"

- Associated Press

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