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Jeremy Corbyn discusses literary loves with author Ben Okri

Published 15/07/2016

Jeremy Corbyn said he would choose peace over prosperity
Jeremy Corbyn said he would choose peace over prosperity

Jeremy Corbyn has said he would rather change the world than change the Government, and choose peace over prosperity and revolution over power.

The answers came in a quickfire question session with author Ben Okri, in which Mr Corbyn also opted for cycling over walking, cats over dogs and yoga over dance.

The beleaguered Labour leader took time out from his turbulent party battles to discuss his literary loves with the Booker-winning novelist and poet at London's Royal Festival Hall.

He named Robert Tressell's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists as the book which first inspired his politics, noting that its cast of downtrodden workers could be transposed into a modern day call centre or Sports Direct warehouse.

But he said his true childhood passion was for maps, and recalled how he spent hours in the library poring over atlases and Ordnance Survey sheets.

He professed his admiration for Joseph Conrad's tale of colonial exploitation in the Congo, Heart of Darkness, as well as a modern book about apartheid South Africa, Starlight in the Ring by HN Quinnen, and Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo's Our Sister Killjoy, about the experiences of an African migrant to the UK.

He named Jerusalem as the song he would choose as England's national anthem, suggested that his alternative career outside politics could have been farming and said the last gig he attended was Mexican singer Lila Downs.

Mr Corbyn said the book he would advise Prime Minister - and former Home Secretary - Theresa May to read would be Oscar Wilde's De Profundis, detailing his suffering as a prisoner in Reading Gaol.

The event, before a packed and enthusiastic audience, was organised after Mr Corbyn quoted Okri in his victory speech after being elected leader last year, and the Nigerian author wrote him a poem in response.

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