"Barbadian creative writing has now turned the corner." Such are the opening words used by historian Trevor Marshall in his review of the novel entitled The Royal Palms Are Dying, penned by Alvin 'Boots' Cummins. This fictional story takes place on an island which most of us will recognise as Barbados, and its main plot features the rise and fall of a Prime Minister, and unfolds in a strangely familiar fashion. Apart from being a gifted storyteller, Mr. Cummins' plot and skilful use of language serves to entice his readers and invite them to savour and preserve the virtues of life on the island like Barbados, including the landscape, the food, the village life and its most important resource –- the people.

Alvin Cummins has been writing seriously since 1985, and is inspired primarily by Barbadians and Barbadian situations. In this novel he has chosen the theme 'Royal Palms' to signify the loss of the values in Barbadian society, coinciding with the natural phenomenon of the threat of termites to the stately and beautiful tree, the Royal Palm, which is frequently seen along the sides of streets and walkways in Barbados. The termites eat away the insides of the trunks, causing the leaves and branches to fall off. The stability of the island described in the novel is also threatened by a lack of integrity and by outside forces which have brought about its dangerous demise.

The 'hero' of the novel is a poor black boy who grew up in the late 1930's or 1940's and benefited from a quality secondary education. Having progressed through scholarship, strength of character, perseverence and hard work, he becomes a minister of government, and subsequently the Prime Minister. There are elements in both society and government that threaten to overpower him and interrupt the domestic harmony of the island.

Cummins has woven a captivating plot which keeps you reading, and, in the words of reviewer Trevor Marshall, it "….races along with the speed and emotion-jerking sturdiness of a state-owned Transport Board bus."

"I read this book in one continuous sitting. I could not put it down. It is brilliant... brilliant.  Ashworth Elwin. Former Dominican High Commissioner to London

"I thoroughly enjoyed it. The symbolism of the dying Royal Palms is beautifully done. The corruption that is central to the book is the same as that in Miami except here it is on a much grander scale and not so clever or subtle as in your book."  Joseph Prosspero. Professor Emeritus, University of Miami

About Alvin Cummins