The award, an offshoot of Britain's better-known Man Booker novel-of-the-year prize, is awarded for a lifetime's work. It is open to authors of all nationalities whose work is available in English.
Yan fell foul of the authorities with "Dream of Ding Village," about the AIDS crisis caused by HIV-contaminated blood, and "To Serve the People," which features a character who can be aroused only when his lover smashes images of Chairman Mao.
Sorokin, best known for "The Ice Trilogy," had his early books banned in Soviet times.
Other finalists announced Thursday at the Jaipur Literary Festival in India include Lydia Davis of the United States, Pakistan's Intizar Husain, France's Marie NDiaye and Indian writer U.R. Ananthamurthy.
Academic Christopher Ricks, who chairs the judging panel, said the 10 were "astonishingly different" writers who range in age from their 40s to their 80s.
The prize, awarded every two years, causes fierce debate and occasional controversy. In 2011, British spy writer John le Carre asked for his name to be removed from the shortlist — he said he eschewed awards — and one of the jurors resigned at the choice of Roth as winner.
This year's winner will be announced in London on May 22.