LISBON, July 25: Portuguese author Jose Saramago, a Nobel literature laureate, said on Sunday he believed the world would be a better place if adults were forced to read children's books.

"They are moral fables that teach values which we consider indispensable like solidarity, respect for others and goodness," national news agency Lusa quoted him as saying in Italy.

"But after we, as adults, forget these lessons in real life," he added. Saramago, whose works mix magical realism with hard-edged political comment, was speaking in Rome before the presentation of a musical based on a children's story which he wrote 30 years ago.

The 81-year-old author won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998 and is indisputably Portugal's best-known literary figure. He has sold roughly 3.5 million of his books which have been published in more than 30 languages. His latest novel, "Essay on Lucidity", concerns a right-wing government's reaction to an election in which more than 80 per cent of votes cast are blank. -AFP

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