The Presswallah
Manjula Lal

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This three-part novel is a tongue-in-cheek account of the travails of a journalist in and around New Delhi. The protagonist Manush’s talent and sincerity, far from being rewarded, is seen as a threat by his bosses and colleagues as he job-hops from Noida (1995) to Delhi (2005) to Gurgaon (2015). The situations are startling and unexpected. The character has been crafted not for a stand-alone novel, but as the protagonist of a series.

In Noida, the magazine Manush works for is a dead-end job where office intrigues and feudal behaviour patterns leave little room for professional values or goals. On a personal level, his relations with his wife are strained, and he has an extra-marital affair.

In Delhi, he works for the top-selling newspaper where good work is done despite insidious games played by the editors and owner. He is trying to patch up with his wife, who has come back after a six-year separation.

In Gurgaon, the website he works for and the city in which it is based are futuristic, globalised. Manush’s former lover is the director of the company. The world has changed drastically in the 20 years since he started his career.

Inevitably for a first novel, the material is drawn from first-time author Manjula Lal’s own experiences in about 20 news organisations. It is marked by droll humour, unconventional gender relations and piquant situations. The overall sense is of professionals being pawns in bigger games but soldiering on, clinging on to their sense of purpose and professional ethics against all odds. We get glimpses of the messy personal lives and existential issues but the news imperative always overtakes moments of introspection, never allowing the pace of the narrative to flag. If the novel succeeds, a whole series can be written using the same characters.

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Reviews by the community

Niyati Shinde

Liked it. Gave me an inside into the life of a 'presswala'! Loved the cover as well, sarcastically funny! :-)

Oct 02 '14

Archana Ranjan

The book is written in a very easy, racy style. The sequence of events is engaging. I would definitely like to read through to the end.

Jul 22 '14

Kithaab Sris

I liked the author's narrative style, this would make a light, fun read.

Jul 12 '14


The book starts slowly and corporate hitting outs can be reduced a bit. The third chapter actually, sets the tone. I felt the last chapter went quickly compared to others. Candidly putting out, the feel after reading the third chapter was as similar to that post reading Durbaar, by Tavleen Singh. Good Job Mam:)

Jun 18 '14

Mahrukh Chikliwala

The humor is subtle, interesting characters. Maujula Lal takes us through all the intrigues and shenanigans of the media houses. The politics, inter-personal relationships of co-workers, their fears and the jockeying for power are put forth very realistically in the first three chapters. i wonder how Manush deals with his problems and the explosive document he finds in chapter three as the story unfolds. Will read this book.

Jun 15 '14

Subodh Lal

It is very interesting premise. Coming from a veteran journalist, the book should make it to the marquee list.
The world of journalists is fascinating. In spite of surfeit of news in our lives to day (what with scores of 24x7 news channels), we never seem to tire of the goings on in the journalists' world as reflected in their writing, broadcasts and gumption. One has often wondered about the people behind all these stories: what drives them? Is it their own thirst for recognition or is it a genuine desire to set the world right? Are they driven by owners of media houses? Are they on sale? Do they have any ethics at all?
I look forward to The Presswaalahs

Jun 09 '14

Inderjit Singh Paintal

i love the uncomplicated clinical style, the years of journalistic instinct shines through (and i mean it in a very positive, envious way!) Read through a couple of dozen pages and really enjoyed it. It promises to be a true insiders tale. Waiting for the rest...

May 27 '14

About the author

Manjula Lal Follow

A writer at heart since the age of 10, a journalist since the age of 25, I live in a fantasy world. And whenever the real world shows itself in its true colours, I am astounded by how many mysteries and tortures it holds.