Olaf Olafsson (full name Ólafur
Jóhann Ólafsson) was born in
Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962 and studied
physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis
University, Massachusetts, in the early
1980s. He is the author of three
novels and a collection of short
stories; his work has been translated
into at least 14 languages.
He is also Executive Vice President of Time Warner, responsible for the company's corporate strategy, mergers, acquisitions and investments. Prior to that, he was Vice Chairman of Time Warner Digital Media where he was responsible for developing strategic business plans for Time Warners diverse digital media businesses and identifying emerging growth opportunities for the company in the digital realm.
"It still amazes me sometimes that I actually stumbled into the world of business. I don't think I ever intended to. Growing up, I envisioned businessmen as being rather dull, manipulative old blokes, smoking a cigar and making pronouncements, usually not very smart. So much for that. I enjoy working with people in building businesses, putting ideas into motion --- it's a bit like starting with a blank piece of paper. Writing on the other hand is a basic need. If I don't write, I'm not content. It's pretty simple."
Olafsson's career in
technology began when, in an effort to
persuade him to stay in the Ph.D.
program, a professor enlisted the help
of the head of Sony Corp America.
Instead the executive offered Olafsson a
job in Silicon Valley, which he
accepted. Over the next few years he
founded and headed Sony's digital
He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
Like the author, many of the protagonists in Valentines hail from Iceland, but have easily assimilated themselves into US culture. Iceland is located close to the Arctic Circle about midway between New York and Moscow. It is about the size of Kentucky with a population of 300,000 (1% that of the USA). Iceland enjoys literacy, longevity and income levels easily at or above the USA and, despite being very far north (10% of the country is covered in glaciers), the country's 4,000 farmers produce sufficient meat products to sustain the population as well as substantial amounts of vegetables, partly in geothermally heated glasshouses.
According to the World Database of Happiness, Iceland consistently ranks as one of the happiest countries in the world; in some surveys, it ranks No.1.
This article was originally published in February 2007, and has been updated for the
January 2008 paperback release.
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