Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa said his latest novel, "El heroe discreto," reflects on the growth and consolidation of democracy in Peru, making the work his "most optimistic" so far.

The Peruvian writer, who also holds Spanish citizenship, discussed his latest work during an appearance Saturday at the Juan Bravo Theater in Segovia.

Vargas Llosa told Spanish writer Juan Jose Armas Marcelo, who hosted the event, that he took up the changes in Peru, comparing it to 20 or 30 years ago, when Latin America was "a continent full of military dictatorships."

The 77-year-old Nobel laureate said his work now showed more respect for older people.

"Since I have gotten old, I am less critical and harsh with the old in my novels than I was as a young man," Vargas Llosa, the author of "Pantaleon y las visitadoras" and "La tia Julia y el escribidor," said.

Vargas Llosa talked about the importance of literature before a packed house in Segovia.

"Literature allows us to live other lives, to get out of a reduced and mediocre place, and to identify with destinies that break the mold of normality, that allow us to live burning passions, that turn us into adventurers," Vargas Llosa said.

The writer also discussed Peru's rich cuisine, noting that "the authoritarian tradition forced the imagination and fantasy to seek prudent ways of expressing themselves."

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