Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Valentines

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Valentines

by Olaf Olafsson

Valentines by Olaf Olafsson
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2007, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 224 pages

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Beyond the Book

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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 Warner’s 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 entertainment division.

He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.

About Iceland
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. Click here to go to this issue.

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