What do animals think and what do we think of them?

Animal sentience, human-animal relationships and the ethical treatment of animals are explored in a new collection of short stories and essays, released by animal protection institute Voiceless and Nobel literature prizewinner J.M. Coetzee.

The focus of The 2013 Voiceless Anthology, selected from the work of 350 Australian authors, is on animals produced for food and those found in Australia.

In addition to publication, these entries are finalists for the Voiceless Writing Prize sponsored by Australian Ethical Investment.

As one of the richest prizes of its kind in Australia, the competition offers cash prizes of $15,000 and $5000.

Coetzee, head of the competition judging panel, described the anthology as "a selection of lively, engaging and often passionately felt stories and essays revolving around one of the more urgent social and philosophical issues of our times".

"The stories and essays submitted to Voiceless were infused with a sense that there is something badly wrong with the new world order, that in the course of doing unprecedented harm to animals we are also, in ways it is not easy to put a finger on, doing harm to ourselves," he said.

"Here the resources of writing are sensitively and often ingeniously deployed to explore territory to which we have little access save through the human imagination," Coetzee said.

Joining Coetzee on the judging panel were Voiceless co-founder and managing director Ondine Sherman, literary editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Susan Wyndham and immediate past director of the Sydney Writers Festival Wendy Were.

The anthology is available online for download as an e-book before its official print release.

The public can vote for their favourite finalist and winner of the $5000 readers' choice prize.

The print edition will be launched on November 28 in conjunction with the naming of the competition winners.

The e-book is available for $1.99 from Kindle, Kobo, Google Play and independent booksellers, including Readings and GleeBooks. All royalties from e-book sales will go towards funding Voiceless's work to end the institutionalised suffering of animals.

Voiceless is an independent and non-profit think tank focused on animal protection.

It intends to drive change against institutionalised animal cruelty in Australia by growing animal law, influencing legislative reform and building a powerful movement of animal protection advocates.

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